December 2013 Archives

The FAQ series from Backbeat Books is just about the best thing going these days for serious fans. The FAQ catalog includes books about Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and other musicians, and even features titles about films and Star Trek. The long strange trip of The Grateful Dead is the subject of the new The Grateful Dead FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Greatest Jam Band in History by Tony Sclafani. When I heard about this book, the only question I had was "What took 'em so long?" What makes these FAQ books so good is

A Novel Soundtrack: "Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg

I knew this story had to be told at Christmas time...because New Year's Eve is that time of year we make promises to ourselves and others to change our lives.
  |   Comments
If you've read any of my Retro Reminiscing articles here at BBS, you already know that I'm a bit of a sucker for the sugar-sweet pop music. To me, it's sort of like chocolate - you can never have enough of it. That taste also transcends to the books I write. Because my muse is so closely connected to music. One of the things I do when I start plotting a story is I create a playlist for the book. The songs might have the same theme as the book, or they might be ones I can see one of
I discover whats coming out each week through Amazon. They list pretty much everything but the smallest, most obscure records coming out and they sort it by biggest sellers which helps me see the choicest selections in an easy manner. Of course it also allows me to be all the crap the masses are buying, but that's my burden to bear.This week I'm noticing that the vast majority of things making the first dozen pages or so are imports. Now I'm not entirely sure how Amazons determines what to list as imports. I mean obviously these things were released overseas

DeepSoul, Holiday Edition: The Salsoul Orchestra - "Merry Christmas All"

Celebrate the holiday season with some classic 1970s soul.
  |   Comments
Last week's column featured Skyy, a part of the Salsoul label's roster. Like many music companies, the dance-oriented label capitalized on the holiday season; in 1976, Salsoul released Christmas Jollies, a collection of carols and original songs remade in disco fashion. The album featured the Salsoul Orchestra, the house band for many of the label's hits, along with guest singers. Yes, the album is a bit dated and at times amusing--"The Little Drummer Boy" never sounded so funky--but there are some buried gems as well. The original tune "Merry Christmas All," cowritten by Salsoul Orchestra members Andy Kozak and Vince

CD Review: Miles Davis: The Original Mono Recordings (Box Set)

Even vinyl-loving audiophiles will have to admit Miles Davis' music has never sounded better than it does on this set!
  |   Comments
Yes, they do sound better - remarkably better as a matter of fact. Since the first question on everybody's mind in regards to the new Miles Davis box set The Original Mono Recordings will be whether the sound quality is actually improved or not, I thought I would answer it immediately. These nine CDs sound so superior to the previous releases that it is almost shocking. The reasons behind this are two-fold. One is that the original recordings were made with the dominant mode of play in mind, which was mono. The other has to do with the source material.

DeepSoul: Skyy - "Call Me"

The track brings back memories not only of the last days of disco, but of a label that played a large part during that era.
  |   Comments
Here's an equation: take a funky bass line, add a scratchy guitar riff, and multiply some silky vocals, and it equals the late disco hit "Call Me" by Skyy. A product of the famed Salsoul label, the group became a sensation due to this thoroughly danceable and somewhat naughty track. Hearing the song brings back memories not only of the disco era, but of a label that played a large part during that time. Based in Brooklyn, New York Skyy began with three sisters: Denise, Dolores and Bonne Dunning. In 1973 the singing trio met vocalist/rhythm guitarist Solomon Roberts, Jr.;
I think I can finally stop complaining about the lack of interesting releases this close to Christmas. This week we've got a very nice collection to talk about. I've mentioned on multiple occasions my love for live concert recordings and this week continues that trend. It is really quite astonishing now how many bands are digging through their old material and coming up with live treasures that should make any music lover happy.Towards the top of the list of folks doing this are Neil Young. He's been regularly releasing pristine recordings from some of his best performances. My only complaint

Review: Magic Sam - 'Live At The Avant Garde'

Possibly the best Magic Sam live album yet...
  |   Comments
Magic Sam Maghett is among the most influential bluesmen who also happens to be part of the tragic legacy of talents who left too soon. The blues world is awash in incomplete stories of artists who had so much to give and not enough time to give it, leaving fans with the bittersweet taste of gratitude for what we have and the stinging loss of the great songs and performances never to be heard. Sam recorded a handful of singles for Cobra Records before making the jump to the great Delmark Records. He recorded two essential, landmark albums while there:

Rawls Pays Loving Tribute To Mentor On 'Remembering O.V.'

Rawls crafts a fine tribute to the great O.V. Wright...
  |   Comments
It feels as though Johnny Rawls has been paying tribute to his mentor, the great O.V. Wright, his entire career and it's difficult to believe he is only now getting around to making a tribute record to a man who shaped his sound. Each of his most recent records have featured at least one Wright song, a nod to the time he spent as bandleader for the legend. Remembering O.V. is Rawls' 2013 release and features nothing but songs that were integral to Wright's oeuvre. Rawls enlists the help of another great soul singer, Otis Clay, in this labor of

DeepSoul: Floetry - "Say Yes"

Unfairly underrated, Floetry redefined neo-soul by combining poetry with old-school R&B.
  |   Comments
During the height of the 90s neo-soul movement, the duo Floetry became songwriters in demand. Their sensual mix of poetic lyrics, hip hop, and classic soul appealed to emerging and established artists- Michael Jackson covered their lovely composition "Butterflies," while Jill Scott recorded "Love Again" with Jazz from Dru Hill. Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart's own work, however, should not be overlooked. While they released only two studio albums before disbanding in 2007, Floetry's unique sound evokes the heyday of neo-soul and its lasting effect on artists such as Scott and Maxwell. Their 2002 single "Say Yes" perfectly represents Floetry's
After last weeks poor assembly of new releases I thought this week would be better. I was wrong. Dead wrong. I suppose this week they figure we're still all out of cash after laying down big bucks on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Looking at the coming weeks until Christmas things do pick up quite a bit and we'll have more to talk about then. But for now we've got slim pickings indeed.I'm really not a Roy Orbison fan. Though obviously he had a lot of fans and his voice is acclaimed far and wide, most of