Check out the matter-of-fact review on this. Sounds like the dude didn’t understand that he was sitting on a classic in the same tier as THERE’S A RIOT GOIN’ ON when this came out, huh? -Ian!
Five years after his Brown Sugar album helped launch contemporary R&B, D’Angelo finally returned with his sophomore effort, Voodoo. His soulful voice is just as sweet as it was on Brown Sugar, though D’Angelo stretches out with a varied cast of collaborators, including trumpeter Roy Hargrove and guitarist Charlie Hunter, fellow neo-soul stars Lauryn Hill and Raphael Saadiq, and hip-hop heads like DJ Premier, Method Man & Redman, and Q-Tip. It must have been difficult to match his debut (and the frequent delays prove it was on his mind), but Voodoo is just as rewarding a soul album as D’Angelo’s first.
-John Bush, allmusic.comm
Has some overlap with YOU GOT MY MIND MESSED UP, but to me the only guy that ties with Carr as the greatest soul vocalist of all time is O.V. Wright. -Ian!
All 28 songs from Carr’s 1964-1970 Goldwax singles are here, which is enough to make it a fair bid for a good best-of compilation, although it doesn’t have everything he recorded. About half of the songs on this British import are not on the most well-known American CD compilation of Carr’s work, The Essential James Carr, and those tracks are consistent with the level of his other Goldwax recordings, although they don’t include anything on the level of “The Dark End of the Street” or “Pouring Water on a Drowning Man.” This disc is particularly valuable for filling in some of his earliest 1964-1966 sides, which have a very slightly poppier and more up-tempo bent than his most esteemed songs. “That’s What I Want to Know”‘s groove is pretty Motown-ish, for instance, while “I Can’t Make It” and “Only Fools Run Away” have Marvelettes-like chirping in the background. The 1970 funk update of “Row, Row Your Boat” isn’t much to cheer about, though. There are plenty who will argue the point, but this doesn’t quite live up to Carr’s billing as the greatest ’60s deep soul singer; Otis Redding (who Carr resembles in some respects) was better, and others had better and more imaginative material. It’s good, certainly, and recommended to fans of artists like Redding who are looking for similar stuff that doesn’t get played on the radio anymore.
-Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com
James Carr-THE COMPLETE GOLDWAX SINGLES (2001 compilation)
Although they never recorded for Motown Records, the Flirtations should have, because they sounded like nothing so much as a more energetic version of the Supremes, and by all rights, this exciting vocal trio should have been continually at the top of the pop charts during the late 1960s and early 1970s. They did have a big hit with 1969’s “Nothing But a Heartache,” a record that has had an enduring shelf life and actually might be better known now in the 21st century than it was 40-some years ago. An American singing trio who relocated to the U.K. in 1967, the Flirtations recorded an album, Sounds Like the Flirtations, and several singles for the Decca imprint Deram Records before leaving for Polydor Records in 1972. This set collects the Deram album and adds in four additional tracks from the same time period to make an ideal introduction to this fun group. Among the gems here are the undeniably classic “Nothing But a Heartache,” the bursting-with-energy “Need Your Loving,” the autobiographical “South Carolina” and the why-wasn’t-this-a-hit “What’s Good About Goodbye My Love,” but everything here falls into the same groove, with upbeat arrangements, spirited singing and insistent, racing and almost unhinged horn arrangements.
-Steve Leggett, allmusic.com
The Flirtations-SOUNDS LIKE THE FLIRTATIONS (1970)
Another amazing find from FUNK MY SOUL, I’m telling you that blog is the BUSINESS. -Ian!
Skull Snaps were a mysterious funk group that lasted long enough to record and release a self-titled 1973 album before apparently disbanding. Since its small-time release on the GSF label, Skull Snaps has become one of the more legendary rare funk records, having been sampled countless times on rap records. Gang Starr’s “Take It Personal,” Camp Lo’s “Cooley High,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Hippa to da Hoppa,” Lords of the Underground’s “Funky Child,” and Diamond D’s “Sally Got a One Track Mind” represent just a handful of the tracks that have put the drums from “It’s a New Day” to use. Charly later issued the album on CD in the ’90s, to the amazement of those who had paid triple figures for the original LP.
Original vinyl copies of Skull Snaps’ one and only LP continue to exchange hands on the rare groove market for three figures. There are two reasons for this: one, it’s rare, and two, the drum breaks from the album have been feasted upon for samples so frequently that samples of the samples have likely been sampled. It’s not that the album is spectacular — it’s merely a decent early-’70s funk record from some accomplished musicians who don’t exactly leave a trademark of their own throughout its nine songs. This soul-drenched funk album is most notable for the drums of “It’s a New Day.” It’s the album’s strongest cut, and the opening drum pattern is as ubiquitous they come — you can hear it get put to re-use in well over two dozen popular rap songs. Anyone who likes hard funk will find much to like — the vocals are gruff, the rhythms are tough yet nimble (the drums are crisp and smacking throughout), and the subject matter takes on everything from pimps to romance to everyday relationships.
-Andy Kellman, allmusic.com
Skull Snaps-SKULL SNAPS (1973)
Never Say You Can’t Survive was the last Curtis Mayfield album done in a pure soul vein for the next three years — its style and sound place it in a direct continuity with the rest of his output right back to 1958. The singing on love songs such as “Show Me Love,” “Just Want to Be With You,” and “When We’re Alone” is among the most achingly lyrical and passionate of his career. The title track boasts ravishing backup singing by Kitty & the Haywoods (who also perform outstandingly on “I’m Gonna Win Your Love”) and a beautiful arrangement by James Mack. The album’s final track, “Sparkle” (written for Sam O’Steen’s movie of the same name, starring Philip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara, and Lonette McKee), gets one of three distinct treatments that the song ever received (the others from the soundtrack and Aretha Franklin’s version).
-Bruce Eder, allmusic.com
Curtis Mayfield-NEVER SAY YOU CAN’T SURVIVE (1977)
Shockingly little information information on this album by Ike & Tina. Little help? Drop a line if you know anything, allmusic, wikipedia, amazon have nothing on it. No reviews I can really find.
Anyway, the album fucking tears ass all over the place. So just get it.
Ike & Tina Turner and The Ikettes-COME TOGETHER (1970))
I grouped these two together because Curtis Mayfield wrote and produced these soundtracks in the space of a year! And who doesn’t love Pops Staples and Gladys Knight? I haven’t seen CLAUDINE but LET’S DO IT AGAIN is a great movie. -Ian!
The Claudine movie soundtrack sported the jammin’ million-selling single “On and On” by Gladys Knight & the Pips. Written and produced by Curtis Mayfield and featured in the classic 1974 family drama starring Diahann Carroll, James Earl Jones, and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (Welcome Back Kotter, Alien Nation, Cooley High), it parked at number two R&B for four weeks, going to number five Pop on Billboard’s charts in 1974. Claudine is the least celebrated of songwriter/producer Mayfield’s soundtrack albums (Superfly, Sparkle), though it’s the most poignant of them. “Mr. Welfare Man” lays out the dehumanizing effect of being on welfare, while still being enticing and majestic in its dynamic arrangement. As much airplay as the track garnered, oddly it was never released as a single. “To Be Invisible” spoke to a child character’s need to escape her depressing surroundings. Originally recorded by Mayfield on his Curtis LP, “The Makings of You” is a heart-tugging, strings-cushioned ballad that Knight sings wonderfully. Other LP tracks that received airplay are the upbeat, beautiful title track and the sweet “Make Yours a Happy Home,” which curiously wasn’t issued as a single until 1976. Claudine went gold, hitting number one on the R&B charts in summer 1974.
This is a must-have cd for fans of Curtis or the Staples Singers. It is a slight detour from most SS albums, in that this one is all about love, lust, and funky good timing. Curtis really teases out beautiful performances here, highlights include the smooth title track and the sexy workout “Funky Love.” I really love “New Orleans,” and was hoping it would get remade or re-noticed in the wake of Katrina. The song where it all works, though, is “I Want to Thank You,” where Curtis’s groove, funk, backbeat, and production meet the overtly spiritual nature of the lyrics (more traditional SS territory). A great album.
Ed Hogan, allmusic.com and some guy on amazon.com
Gladys Knight & The Pips – CLAUDINE (1974 OST)
The Staple Sisters – LET’S DO IT AGAIN (1975 OST)
They say that Curtis Mayfield fell off after he released his 4th studio album “back to the world” in 1973. *They*, as Uma Thurman quipped in Pulp Fiction, talk a lot, don’t they? They certainly do and in this case it seems that the “they” in question talk through their backsides as this here album is a genuine lost gem for both Mayfield and Blaxploitation soundtrack devotees.
“Short eyes”, his 1977 soundtrack to the flick of the same name, was released at a time when fellow heavyweights such as James Brown and Isaac Hayes had fallen victim to over-polished disco kitschness and, thus, surely must stand as one of the last great 70s soul/funk albums as it’s drenched in everything that makes those first 4 Mayfield albums so damn good : that sweet falsetto almost as a ringmaster to the rest of the proceedings; commanding the dirty funked up wah-wah guitar, lush arrangements, heartstopping strings, wailing double-tracked backing vocals and trippy backwards fx to do backflips and weave their way in and out of macked-out horns and throbbing bass grooves (no homo!) while crisp snares and reverberating bongos underline the whole experience.
The bizarrely monikered “Do do wap is strong in here” is probably the most well known song here as it tends to appear on yer standard Mayfield best ofs.., funk compilations and has been heavily sampled by hip hop producers and, while it is possibly the finest composition here, the rest of the album is equally as stellar. The title track is as instantly thrilling and unforgettable a theme as any other notable Blaxpolitation title track you can name and the rest of the album is a miscegenation of fuzzed-up Chicago blues-funk and rich soulful arrangements, usually in the same song. Business as usual, then.
A must for all Mayfield fans and i’d say it’s slightly better overall than “back to the world” and up there with “curtis”, “superfly” and “roots”. Of course there has to be a catch involved with something this good that’s somehow managed to thwart reappraisal by funk-fans, the breakbeat generation and the NYC/Chicago hipsterati set until now : not domestically available here in America you can only find this on import vinyl or as part of a now deleted double-disc 90s reissue of “superfly”, both of which will set you back at least $40. It’s an album that’s quality justifies such a hefty price tag if you’ve searched hell and highwater and still can’t find it cheaper but, really, let’s have a remastered cd reissue of this, please.
Curtis Mayfield-SHORT EYES (1977 OST)
I’m really excited about Gil Scott-Heron returning with this CRAZY SCOTT WALKER’S “THE DRIFT” SOUNDING ALBUM. Holy moly, talk about out of left field. -Ian!
Gil Scott-Heron, Brian Jackson, and the Midnight Band take a slightly different approach with their 1977 effort, Bridges. With less of the gaping and world-infused sound prevalent on previous albums, the songs are more concise and Scott-Heron comes into his own as a singer depending less on his spoken word vocal style. This album may not be one of his better-known releases (the long out of print LP is slated to make it’s CD debut in the fall of 2001), but the excellent songwriting exposes Scott-Heron at the height of his powers as a literary artist.
Air sampled this on some album I haven’t heard yet.
The social, political, cultural, and historical themes are presented in a tight funk meets jazz meets blues meets rock sound that is buoyed by Jackson’s characteristic keyboard playing and the Midnight Band’s colorful arrangements. Scott-Heron’s ability to make the personal universal is evident from the opening track, “Hello Sunday! Hello Road!,” all the way through to the gorgeous “95 South (All of the Places We’ve Been).” The most popular cut on the album, “We Almost Lost Detroit,” which shares its title with the John G. Fuller book published in 1975, recounts the story of the nuclear meltdown at the Fermi Atomic Power Plant near Monroe, MI, in 1966. This song was also contributed to the No Nukes concert and album in 1980. Along with the two records that would follow in the late 70s, Bridges stands as one of Scott-Heron’s most enjoyable and durable albums.
-Jeff Schwachter, allmusic.com
Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson-BRIDGES (1977)