Tag Archives: Soul

Ray Charles Live In Concert to be Re-issued by Concord Music Group

22 Mar

In the half-century between his earliest recordings in the 1950s and his death in 2004, Ray Charles ascended to icon status by leaving his mark on virtually every form of American popular music that emerged in the latter half of the 20th century. Nowhere was this more evident than in his live performances, where one was likely to hear shades of blues, soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, country, and more in a single evening – indeed, sometimes in a single song. To put it simply, the Right Reverend did it all.

 All of these subtle shades and styles are evident in Concord Music Group’s reissue of Ray Charles Live in Concert. Originally released as a 12-song LP on ABC-Paramount in early 1965, Live in Concert captured Ray at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in September 1964. More than four decades later, the CD reissue brings additional depth and perspective to the 1964 recording with the help of 24-bit remastering, seven previously unreleased tracks and extensive new liner notes that provide additional historical context to what is already considered a pivotal recording in Ray’s overall body of work.

“There could be no more uplifting live musical experience than digging Ray Charles and his mighty orchestra in their prime,” says roots music historian Bill Dahl. Indeed, the 15-piece orchestra backing Ray on this date – assembled just a few years earlier in 1961 – boasted no less than a dozen horns, including formidable saxophonists David “Fathead” Newman, Hank Crawford, and Leroy “Hog” Cooper, all of whom had been with Ray since his days as a leader of smaller combos. “This amazing aggregation,” says Dahl, “was every bit as conversant with the intricacies of modern jazz as with the gospel-blues synthesis that Brother Ray pioneered during the mid-1950s, when he began accruing serious cred as the father of what would soon become known as soul music.”

Chris Clough, Concord’s manager of catalog development and producer of the Live in Concert reissue, notes that the Shrine Auditorium performance took place at a transitional moment in Ray’s career, just as he was transcending the confines of R&B and entering the mainstream by demonstrating a firm grasp of various other genres. “He’d made his ascendance in the early ’60s, and he had the world at his feet by this time,” says Clough. “He’d basically invented soul, he’d done R&B, he’d conquered country and he was on his way to becoming an American icon.”

In the span of 19 songs, Live in Concert illuminates the route to that destination. Ray wastes no time taking his audience on a ride from jazzy big band groove of “Swing a Little Taste” to the Latin-flavored “One Mint Julep” to the blues-gospel hybrid of his classic “I Got a Woman.” Although his live rendition of “Georgia On My Mind” on this date didn’t make the cut on the original LP, the song is a standout track on the reissue, thanks to his complex organ runs and the flute lines moving in counterpoint with his rich vocals.

Clough considers the yearning “You Don’t Know Me” and the previously unreleased “That Lucky Old Sun” to be among the high points of the recording. “It sounds like he’s really baring his soul on those two tracks, and they just sound incredible,” says Clough, noting that Ray was unaware that tape was rolling during this performance. “This particular date was at the end of their tour, and the performance seems a little loose as a result – in a good way, and in a less slick way.”

Further in, the rousing “Hallelujah, I Love Her So” is driven by a gospel groove and embellished with a sax solo by Newman that closely mirrors the original 1957 recording. The result is a familiar hit for an audience that’s more than ready to reinforce Ray’s foot-stomping beat with handclaps.

The sly and swaggering “Makin’ Whoopee” is delivered completely off the cuff, with drummer Wilbert Hogan, bassist Edgar Willis, and guitarist Sonny Forriest improvising an accompaniment behind what Dahl calls “Ray’s luxurious piano and breathy, supremely knowing vocals.” By all accounts, Ray spontaneously inserted the song into the set in response to the negative press he’d received overseas about his private life.

In the home stretch, Ray introduces the Raeletts, the female backing vocalists who served as his foil for some of his biggest hits. Together they work their way through “Don’t Set Me Free” (with Lillian Fort stepping forward for a duet with Ray), the comical “Two Ton Tessie” and the torchy “My Baby” before climaxing with the churning “What’d I Say,” a song tailor-made to stoke any room to a fever pitch.

A huge piece of the Ray Charles legacy is his mastery of any style he touched, and his ability to make it his own in a way that no other artist could – powers that can only come from an innate sense of adventure and spontaneity that are fully evident in Ray Charles Live in Concert.

“Few performers were less predictable onstage than Ray Charles,” says Dahl. “And nobody did it better.”


Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly”

27 Jan

Here’s a little “Superfly” on Super Bowl Week:

Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas”

3 Dec

Great timeless tune from the late Donny Hathaway – enjoy!

Forget about the recent re-makes — they just don’t cut it.


Seal releases “SOUL” Tribute

14 Nov

Watch Seal perform James Brown’s powerful “It’s a Mans, Mans, Mans World.”

It’s included on Seal’s collection of soul classics – released 11/11.

Here’s a video synopsis of the critically acclaimed “Soul” CD …

O.V. Wright Deserves this First Class Tribute

9 Oct

Thanks to our old Memphis pal Preston Lauterbach for hipping us to this event.

Get there if you can.

If you can’t, dig deep and give what you can to this wonderful cause.

To learn more, go to www.ovwright.org or www.backroadsofamericanmusic.com 

Now, have a listen to O.V. belting out the classic, “Nickel and a Nail.”

Eddie Floyd Releases New CD on Stax Label

4 Oct

Soul man Eddie Floyd’s first new album in six years, Eddie Loves You So, marks his return to Stax Records. The singer who scored a monster soul classic with “Knock on Wood” in 1967 has returned to his Southern roots for the new CD. Includes 10 original songs written for fellow soul artists in the `50s and `60s.

Watch Eddie & Phil Upchurch perform Floyd’s hit, “Knock On Wood.”

Soul Music Still Alive and Kickin’

25 Sep

Enjoy this video of Raphael Saadiq performing his hit, “100 Yard Dash.”

This was recorded live in Washington DC on September 1st of this year.

Dig those threads!

Goodbye, Norman Whitfield

17 Sep

Whitfield (on the left) with Barrett Strong

Norman Whitfield, the man behind many of Motown’s biggest hits, has died after a long bout with diabetes. Whitfield began writing for Motown when he was 19 years old.

Some of the classic songs he wrote for Motown artists, we covered by some of the biggest acts in the world. The Beatles’ covered ‘Money (That’s What I Want), The Stones did a version of his ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’, Creedence Clearwater Revival did a cover of his ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’.

Between 1966 and 1974, Whitfield produced nearly every song by The Temptations.

Highlights of the hits of Norman Whitfield are:

1963: “Pride & Joy” – Marvin Gaye
1964: “Too Many Fish in the Sea” – The Marvelettes
1964: “Needle in a Haystack” – The Velvelettes
1964: “He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin'” – The Velvelettes
1964: “Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)” – The Temptations
1966: “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” – The Temptations
1966: “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep” – The Temptations
1966: “(I Know) I’m Losing You” – The Temptations
1967: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” – Gladys Knight & the Pips, also recorded by Marvin Gaye and Creedence Clearwater Revival
1967: “You’re My Everything” – The Temptations
1967: “I Wish It Would Rain” – The Temptations
1968: “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You) – The Temptations
1968: “The End Of Our Road” – Gladys Knight & The Pips
1968: “Cloud Nine” – The Temptations
1969: “Friendship Train” – Gladys Knight & the Pips
1969: “Runaway Child, Running Wild” – The Temptations
1969: “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” – Marvin Gaye
1969: “I Can’t Get Next to You” – The Temptations
1969: “Don’t Let The Joneses Get You Down” – The Temptations
1970: “You Need Love Like I Do (Don’t You)” – Gladys Knight & The Pips, also recorded by The Temptations
1970: “Psychedelic Shack” – The Temptations
1970: “Hum Along and Dance” – The Temptations (later covered by Rare Earth and The Jackson 5)
1970: “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)” – The Temptations
1970: “War” – Edwin Starr
1971: “Smiling Faces Sometimes” – The Undisputed Truth, originally recorded by The Temptations
1971: “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” – The Temptations
1972: “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” – The Temptations
1973: “Masterpiece” – The Temptations
1973: “Let Your Hair Down” – The Temptations
1976: “Car Wash” – Rose Royce
1976: “I’m Going Down” – Rose Royce
1976: “I Wanna Get Next to You” – Rose Royce
1977: “Ooh Boy” – Rose Royce
1977: “Wishing on a Star” – Rose Royce
1978: “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” – Rose Royce

RIP, Norman — you were THE MAN!

Cropper & Cavaliere “Nudge It Up a Notch”

16 Sep

Sounds like a keeper – can’t wait to hear it start to finish …

Steve Cropper’s guitar, production and songwriting embodied the sound and the spirit of Stax and the southern soul of the `60s. At the same time, in the Northeast, there was a band called The Rascals, whose sound was epitomized by the brilliant songs, B-3 organ and voice of Felix Cavaliere. Now these two R&B legends come together to Nudge It Up a Notch, a tour de force of 12 smokin’ original tunes, guaranteed to satisfy your soul.


Vote for our friends at Stax Museum

31 Jul

The Stax Museum needs your help! As you know, it’s election season again, which means that it’s time  for the Memphis Flyer’s annual BEST OF MEMPHIS poll–and we want YOU to help make sure that the Stax Museum is rightfully recognized as the BEST MUSEUM in Memphis! 

If you’re a true soul supporter, CLICK HERE to cast your vote for the Stax Museum today! One lucky balloter gets a pair of all-access badges to the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, September 17-20, featuring Joan Baez, John Hiatt, Steve Earle, Bruce Robison, and James McMurtry, among many others. This prize package includes all access to shows and panels and two tickets to the awards show at the Ryman Auditorium. Another lucky balloter will receive an Americana Music Festival prize pack with a “This is Americana” CD sampler pack, volumes I and II, plus an official AMA T-shirt. And 10 lucky balloters will receive a handsome Memphis Flyer T-shirt! All winners will be notified by e-mail and/or phone on Thursday, August 14th.

Vote now or Shaft will grab you where it hurts!