required listening

CD Review


Brand New Day : The Lenox/Atlantic & Roulette Recordings 1962-1970

Soul Music (UK) QSMCR 5194BX (5cd box)

I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You); Am I That Easy To Forget; Be Honest With Me; I Really Don’t Want To Know; I’ve Forgotten More Than You’ll Ever Know About Him; Just Out Of Reach; (Don’t Put) No Headstone On My Grave; Why Should We Try Anymore; After Loving You; I’d Fight The World; Release Me; God Bless The Child Who’s Got His Own; A Lover’s Hymn; Don’t Feel Rained On; You’ll Never Miss Your Water (Till The Well Runs Dry) (w/ BIG AL DOWNING); If You Want It (I’ve Got It) (w/ BIG AL DOWNING); Half A Heart; Why Was I Born; Don’t Let Me Go; While It Lasted; Hello Walls; Mojo Hannah; I Saw Me; Double Crossing Blues (w/ JIMMY RICKS); If You Love Me Really Love Me; Make Believe Dreams; (It’s) Too Soon To Know; You’re The Reason I’m Living; Out Of The Blue; Makin’ Whoopee; Shangri-La; I Wish You Love; ‘Tis Autumn; People; The Girl From Ipanema; Moonglow/A Theme From Picnic; And I Love Him; Some Things You Never Get Used To; Let Me Know When It’s Over; I Could Have Told You; He Touched Me; You Can’t Go Home Again; The Shadow Of Your Smile; The Party’s Over; A Taste Of Honey; It’s All Right With Me; Just Say Goodbye; As Tears Go By; Ups And Downs; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Let There Be Love; Crazy He Calls Me; When A Woman Loves A Man; Somebody Else Is Taking My Place; Fever; Try Me; When Love Comes To The Human Race; C.C. Rider, Cherry Red, Confessin’ The Blues; I’m Gettin’ Long Alright;  Rocks In My Bed; In The Evenin’; Romance In The Dark; I Wonder; Cheater Man; I’m Sorry; Watch Dog; Too Late To Worry Too Blue To Cry; I’m In The Mood For Love (Moody’s Mood For Love); Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You; Sweet Dreams; Too Much Of A Man (To Be Tied Down); Nobody But You; Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream*; And I Love Him*; I Love Paris*; Cry Me A River Blues*; I’m Gettin’ Long Alright*; Release Me*; If It’s The Last Thing I Do*; Makin’ Whoopee*; Shangri-La*; Please Send Me Someone To Love*; Just In Time*; Bye Bye Blackbird*; Fancy*; Blues Medley*; Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream*; Feel Like I Want To Cry*; Please Send Me Someone To Love (outtake)*; Look What Happened To Me*; A Woman Will Do Wrong; Catch Me I’m Falling; Some Cats Know; Set Me Free; Brand New Day; I’m In Love; Just Like A Fish; Tomorrow Night; All God Has Is Us; He Knows (What To Do For Me); Crazy Love  (* = live recording)


The King Of Rock ‘N’ Soul : The Atlantic Recordings 1962-1968

Soul Music (UK) QSMCR 5193T (3cd)

This Little Ring; Be Bop Grandma; It’s All Right; Keep The Magic Working; Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms); How Many Times; A Tear Fell; Cry To Me; I Almost Lost My Mind; Down In The Valley; Looking For My Baby; I’m Hanging Up My Heart For You; Baby (I Wanna Be Loved); Gotta Travel On; I Really Don’t Want To Know; Tonight My Heart She Is Crying; Home In Your Heart; You Can Make It If You Try; Stupidity; Send Me Some Loving; Go On Back To Him; Words; I Said I Was Sorry; Can’t Nobody Love You; If You Need Me; Hard Ain’t It Hard; You Can’t Love ‘Em All; Won’t You Give Him (One More Chance); Beautiful Brown Eyes (+ alt. take); You’re Good For Me; He’ll Have To Go; Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye) (+ alt. take); Someone To Love Me; Everybody Needs Somebody To Love; Yes I Do; The Price; Tonight’s The Night; Got To Get You Off My Mind; Peepin’; Little Girl That Loves Me; Dance Dance Dance; Maggie’s Farm; Only Love (Can Save Me Now); Someone Is Watching; I Don’t Want You No More; (No No No) I Can’t Stop Loving You Now; Baby Come On Home; I Feel A Sin Coming On; Lawdy Miss Clawdy; Mountain Of Pride; Suddenly; When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters); Keep Lookin’; Woman How Do You Make Me Love You Like I Do; Time Is A Thief; Presents For Christmas; Take Me (Just As I Am); I Stayed Away Too Long; Need Your Love So Bad; It’s Just A Matter Of Time; Detroit City; Party People; It’s Been A Change; Soul Meeting (THE SOUL CLAN); That’s How It Feels (THE SOUL CLAN); By The Time I Get To Phoenix; I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free); Shame On Me; Save It; Meet Me In Church; Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye; Why Why Why; Get Out Of My Life Woman; What’d I Say; Since I Met You Baby

Onwards and upwards as one might say…  From these releases and others in the pipeline, it would seem that Soul Music Records have moved on from their anthologies to complete sets of artists’ recordings covering specific labels or eras.  Boy does it make life hard for a reviewer, especially one who would normally enthuse - in the case of Solomon Burke and the up-coming treatment of Barbara Lewis (next on the schedule along with Carla Thomas), over-enthuse - over the content and having it presented all together, there is then the niggling question that suggests someone sufficiently excited over the performer in question may likely already possess the entire content and, unless stimulus can be awakened by some previously unissued gems, sales beyond ‘collectors’ - not necessarily a  synonym for ‘[music] lovers’ - may turn out more limited than anyone might like.  For example, there are eight previously unissued tracks on the Esther Phillips set, six of which come from ‘live’ performance, while there are none on Solomon Burke’s offering.  A further incentive to purchase may well also come from eye-catching presentation and, whilst I hate to say it as it is only a personal opinion after all, I really don’t like the artwork.  The background colour is so dull and drab and when mirrored by the booklet pages, it is distinctly off-putting.  At least the Solomon Burke booklet is readable, black print on a light green being acceptable for anyone with a magnifying glass handy but the fine black print on a brown background used in the Esther Phillips booklet for me rendered what I am sure would have been a fine essay by Charles Waring, together with doubtless painstakingly researched track/recording information, just impossible to tackle.   (As for the page of ‘Reissue Producer’s Notes’ rendered in reddish-brown print on the same brown background - was someone ‘avin a larf?)

Now to the more positive…the music.  I think it would be fair to say that Esther Phillips‘ voice is not one that appeals to everyone, her rasping tones being not always the easiest on the ear (although, personally, I find them totally acceptable).  One could say, therefore, that much depends on her material and the blend of country songs and arrangements afforded to her 1962 Lenox recordings suits the lady to a ‘T’.   Whether Ray Charles kicked off the idea with his ‘Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music‘ album and the hit, ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You‘ or Esther’s #1 hit version of the 1949 composition, ‘Release Me‘ led the field is an argument best left elsewhere but, together with the likes of Solomon Burke - of whom, more later - and Timi Yuro, the blend of country and soul music proved irresistible and, for yours truly, remains so to this day.  Thus, disc 1 here, featuring those Lenox recordings and, with her contract picked up by Atlantic, its reissue as her debut album for the label, ‘The Country Side Of Esther Phillips’, ensures the five album box set is off to a flying start.  Disc 2 includes the albums, ‘And I Love Him‘ and ‘Esther : Esther Phillips Sings’, the contents of both being basically songs which either were or have now pretty much become standards.  Among the first to record a Beatles‘ song, Esther’s version of ‘And I Love Him‘ brought international acclaim and even though chart success outside of her native America rather eluded her, it prompted the Beatles to fly her to the UK for promotional appearances.  Material was chosen wisely and arrangements and orchestration were never less than complementary.  (The liner booklet details recording dates and musicians but I am unable to impart these, having only normal/average eyesight!)  As the sixties moved on, Esther’s vocals and material moved into a jazzier and bluesier vein, hence the ‘Confessin‘ The Blues‘ album which dominates disc 3, also adding the previously unissued ‘Rocks In My Bed‘ and ‘Watch Dog’.  It also marks a period when drug-dependence was taking its toll and she was obliged to quit Atlantic and check into rehab.  A meeting with singer, Sam Fletcher, encouraged her to record some sides for Roulette which round off the third disc and include the pop-slanted ‘Nobody But You‘ and a return to the country/soul genre with such as ‘Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry‘ and ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’.   The whole of disc 4 and the first four tracks of disc 5 concentrate on live recordings, most of which were made after to her return to Atlantic in 1970 and including outtakes and previously unreleased items.  It is here we - viz the recordings and myself - part company as I, for reasons I cannot explain, am a ‘liveophobilc‘ and simply do not enjoy listening to non-studio material (in the same way that I loathe studio material where ‘counting in’ or other chatter has been allowed to invade).  Thus the session(s) from Freddie Jett’s Pied Piper in L.A. are not for me.  Disc 5 pretty much scoops up the previously unplaced, taking from her posthumously-issued 1986 set, ‘Set Me Free’.

Solomon Burke gets three cds and seventy-nine tracks to reflect his time at Atlantic Records between 1962 and 1968.  There are eminent soul music historians who credit the word ‘soul‘ as a musical genre term to have been created coincidentally to describe the vocal quality of Burke himself.  Whilst this may be arguable what is indisputable is that, indeed, Burke has consistently been one of the finest exponents of the music  throughout his career, from his initial recordings for Apollo which began in 1955 and ran through to his ‘Nothing’s Impossible‘ album, issued in 2010, the year of his death.  (A larger than life personality, matching his physical status, his ‘non musical‘ money-making activities are also legend.)  Brought into the Atlantic fold at the end of 1960, working with both Bert Berns and Jerry Wexler in the producers chairs, a marriage made in heaven was clear from the outset, early sessions resulting in such as ‘Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)‘ - country meeting soul once again - and ‘Cry To Me‘ being fine examples.  Other country-flavoured songs such as ‘Gotta Travel On‘ and ‘I Really Don’t Want To Know‘ followed but it is interesting to note that a further item which fits the bill, ‘Down In The Valley’, carries the names of Berns and Burke within the writing credits.  (Yet another impeccable example is Burke’s reading of the Jim Reeves hit, ‘He’ll Have To Go‘ from 1964, by which time we are over on disc 2.)   A number of sessions recorded in New York in ’64 found Burke embellished by the female vocals of Dee Dee Warwick, Cissy Houston, Sylvia Shemwell and Estelle Brown - yet another perfect ‘marriage‘ - resulting in such magnificent sides as ‘Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)‘ and ‘The Price’, with its spoken intro setting the scene.  (‘Rap‘ before the days when ‘c‘ preceded the word!)  In different vein, Burke also delivered the upbeat ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’, ‘Got To Get You Off My Mind‘ and a rather surprising choice of Bob Dylan’s ‘Maggie’s Farm’.  Disc 3, tagged after the Joe Tex song, ‘Meet Me In Church‘ - Solomon’s treatment appearing as track 20 - contains material from his 1968 album releases, ‘King Solomon‘ and ‘I Wish I Knew’, plus non-album tracks including Clarence Carter’s ‘I Stayed Away Too Long‘ and Little Willie John’s ‘Need Your Love So Bad’, both issued as 45 b-sides.  It also gives us ‘Soul Meting‘ and ‘That’s How It Feels’; issued as by ‘The Soul Clan’, it features Burke alongside Don Covay, Joe Tex, Ben E. King and Arthur Conley.  A giant in every way, this set demonstrates just why.

On this occasion, chart positions have been omitted for space reasons.  /                                                                                                                                  

review posted 31/8/20