Sunday, December 22, 2013

Soul Christmas In Store Promo, 1968

Here's a rare one!  When Atlantic released the excellent Soul Christmas LP in 1968, they also sent this promo disc out to record stores to promote the release, and added a sides worth of Booker T & The MG's Xmas tracks from their 1967 Stax Christmas release. My copy is the only one I've ever seen, and it's pretty beat but I'm stoked to have it in my collection.

A highlight of the set is Solomon Burke's gorgeous 'Presents For Christmas'

 A very radio friendly radio voice announces the tracks, and I included the intro and outro for Clarence Carter's 'Back Door Santa' right here for you, as it's easily the coolest voice over on the set!

My fave Booker T. track is their take on 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas'

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Happy birthday, Dennis Wilson!

Dennis Wilson (1944-1983) was the SOUL of The Beach Boys; the surfing, drumming Wilson brother was not only an early favorite of the group's female fans (thanks to his movie star good looks and obvious bad boy sex appeal), but as the his older brother became less prolific, he began to step out on his own and show the world that he, too, had a massive amount of songwriting talent and an ear for melody that was as unique and brilliant as Brian's.

Presented here are four favorite cuts from Dennis, both solo and with the Beach Boys.

Dennis was able to release his (solo) masterwork in 1977, the majestic Pacific Ocean Blue. While the album is superb from start to finish, the opening cut 'River Song" is one of the most epic tracks ever cut to wax by anyone, anywhere. Dennis' sensibilities of melody and harmony here are original, and the track melds together elements of gospel, soul, and pop music and it works like a charm. Sadly, alcoholism was also destroying Dennis at this time, and he never completed the slated follow up LP, (tentatively titled Bamboo) before his tragic death in 1983.

From the earliest Beach Boys albums, Dennis' raspy, earthy voice (mostly in harmony, occasionally as a lead) stood out but blended beautifully on those gorgeous Beach Boys harmonies. However, in 1965, "In The Back of My Mind" was buried as the last song on side 2 of the masterful The Beach Boys Today! LP. Not only did the arrangement of this song and several others from the album foreshadow what was coming for the Beach Boys in 1966 (Pet Sounds and 'Good Vibrations'), it was also the first lead vocal that Dennis was given that showed the type of emotional depth he could bring to a song.

During those crucial years of Brian's creative peak ('66-'67), his greatest ally was his brother Dennis. Both physically and mentally strong, Dennis not only encouraged his brother but also fought the more conservative faction of the group for Brian to create the music that we love so much today. Without Dennis' support, there's a good chance that there would be no Smile.
Brian's music was an inspiration to Dennis, who stepped out in a big way on his own during the Friends (1968) and 20/20 (1969) LP's, and his own composition "Be With Me" (from 20/20) updates the moody vibe of "In The Back Of My Mind" in a very adult way.

By the release of Sunflower in 1970, Brian Wilson's studio presence with the group had fallen to a low level of participation. The other members kept moving forward, and Carl and Dennis stood out as a musical force nearly as strong as their older brother. Sunflower was the (post-Pet Sounds) group at its peak, and the incredible opening track, Dennis' 'Slip On Through', was also released as a 45.

These songs represent merely the tip of the iceberg of the talents of the late, great Dennis Wilson.

 Pacific Ocean Blue inner gatefold, 1
Pacific Ocean Blue inner gatefold, 2
20/20 inner gatefold.

Friday, November 29, 2013

CYRIL DAVIES and THE ALL STARS - SOMEDAY BABY (The Beginning British Blues LP, Immediate Records)

Cyril Davies was truly the father of the British blues movement, both in his age (he was born about ten years before the fellas who went on to become household names) and his early adaptation of Chicago-style electric blues as played by English musicians. Sadly, Davies died in early 1964  (at age 32) and completely missed out on the massive success of the musicians who followed in his footsteps.

While running a skiffle club in the '50's, Davies became enamored of the harmonica stylings of Chess Records/ Chicago blues legend Little Walter, and it turns out that Cyril was also a natural to play in that style. At some point in the '50's, his skiffle club morphed into London's premier blues club, and hosted many of the great American blues artists.

The group that Davies put together in 1962 (initially Blues Incorporated) featured a virtual who's who of future English stars- Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Eric Burdon and Ginger Baker (to scratch the surface) were either full fledged members or guests, who appeared on the legendary R&B From The Marquee LP. Eventually, the group splintered, as several members wanted to go in a more commercial R&B direction, while Davies and Long John Baldry continued on in a pure Chicago blues style under the name Cyril Davies & The All Stars.

It was this group that cut the blazing "Someday Baby" for Pye Records in 1962, which remained unreleased until it became a staple on several collections of cuts that Immediate Records obtained the rights to. This track is essentially a blue print for the blues wailing sound of The Yardbirds, and in itself, when combined with packed, smoky London clubs, was the soundtrack to the Mod Movement.

As Jimmy Page wrote the liner notes to the US release (on the super cool pink US Immediate label, as distributed by Columbia Records), I'm assuming that it's him on guitar here, along with Nicky Hopkins on piano.

Dig this fantastic inner sleeve!

Monday, September 2, 2013

SAM & DAVE - International picture sleeves

 Japan, 1967
 France, 1968
 France, 1968
 Sweden, 1966
 France, 1969
Italy, 1969

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Not a very exciting graphic design, but this is how the seminal Zombies LP was released in Poland.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

New Orleans : Home Of The Blues

Beautiful, impressionistic art on this excellent '60's comp of NOLA classics.

Saturday, July 13, 2013