Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 3, 2014 - JS - Muscle Shoals/Blue Eyed Soul

Rockin' Remnants

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Date:  May 3, 2014 - JS - White Soul Music
Host:  John Simon
Feature:  Muscle Shoals Music Studios/Blue-Eyed Soul

 Tonight's theme was inspired by the recently-aired (on PBS) documentary about "the Muscle Shoals sound," where some of the biggest Soul hits of the '60s were recorded by a bunch of white back-woods Alabama bar-band players under the leadership of studio owner Rick Hall. In addition to Muscle Shoals hits, we'll also shine a spotlight on some of the "Blue-Eyed Soul" acts of the '60s and '70s: white musicians whose soulful delivery often landed them on Billboard's R&B Chart.



[songs in bold were recorded in Muscle Shoals; yellow song titles are YouTube links; songs with * were requests; all chart information comes from the Billboard Top 100 (for chart dates before/during July 1958) or Billboard Hot 100 (for chart dates during/after Aug 1958) unless otherwise noted]


OPENING THEME:  Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll – Cat Mother & the All-Night Newsboys (1969, #29, produced by Jimi Hendrix)

You Better Move On - Arthur Alexander [2/62; #24. Arthur Alexander was a bellhop at a local hotel who approached Rick Hall with a song he'd written. In addition to scoring a pretty big hit on both sides of the ocean, he became a favorite of British acts hungering for authentic American music. The Rolling Stones included this song on an early album (see the video here) and the Beatles featured his song "Anna" on their first British release.]


Steal Away - Jimmy Hughes [6/64; # Pop, #4 R&B. Percy Sledge's cousin Jimmy Hughes worked at the Robbins Tire & Rubber Company. This was the second record to come out of Rick Hall's studio. Hall was batting 1.000...two records, two hits.]

When a Man Loves a Woman - Percy Sledge [4/66; #1 Pop, #1 R&B, #4 UK. The first record from Muscle Shoals to be released on Atlantic Records turned out to be one of the most enduring records of the Rockin' Remnants era, and cemented Muscle Shoals' reputation as a hotbed of hit-making.]

Land of 1,000 Dances - Wilson Pickett [8/66; #6 Pop, #1 R&B. The first of many collaborations between "The Wicked Pickett" and Muscle Shoals' "Swampers."]

I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) - Aretha Franklin [3/67; #9 Pop, #1 R&B (for 7 weeks!). Jerry Wexler had signed Aretha to Atlantic after 5 disappointing years at Columbia Records. Her trip to Muscle Shoals yielded this runaway hit and part of its flip-side ("Do Right Man, Do Right Woman") before an alcohol-fueled fight with racial overtones ended the visit  -  and led Jerry Wexler to sever ties with Rick Hall. The Swampers were flown to NYC to complete the sessions, and would continue to play on Atlantic releases for years to come, but Rick Hall was done at Atlantic.]


This I Swear - The Skyliners [7/59; #26 Pop, #20 R&B. This white group from Pittsburgh featured the soulful voice of Jimmy Beaumont. Smokey Robinson has credited this song with being a major influence on his own singing and writing styles.]

1-2-3 - Len Barry [9/65; #2 Pop, #11 R&B. Philadelphia's Len Barry had been lead singer of The Dovells on the Cameo-Parkway label. This was his solo debut and his highest-charting single.]

I Could Be So Happy - Magnificent Men [7/67; #93. Hailing from the Harrisburg, PA area, this 7-piece Blue-Eyed Soul group was signed by Capitol Records and played Black clubs up and down the East coast, but chart success somehow eluded them.]

I Apologize - Timi Yuro [10/61; #72. This Italian-American dynamo released her first big hit (see below) when she was 21 years old. When "Hurt" began to fade from the chart, DJs flipped the record over and this one charted on its own.]


My Babe - Righteous Brothers [9/63; #75. Bill Medley & Bobby Hatfield were dubbed "righteous brothers" by a bunch of black marines who used to catch them in Southern California's nightclubs. They would eventually be signed by Phil Spector and enjoy greater success than they were achieving at Moonglow Records in 1963 (see below).]

Sock it to Me, Baby - Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels [2/67; #6 Pop. Mitch Ryder exploded onto the scene on Bob Crewe's Dynovoice Label (apparently created expressly for Mitch Ryder's recordings  -  the only other act charting on Dynovoice was Norma Tanega). None of these records charted on the R&B lists. Note: Mitch had apparently overworked his voice at the time this videoclip was filmed....]

Gimme Some Lovin' - Spencer Davis Group [1/67; #7. Young Steve Winwood was all of 16 years old when he recorded this soulful smash. He also composed it and played the memorable Hammond B-3 organ figure that drives it.


 * Hurt - Timi Yuro [7/61; #4 Pop, #22 R&B. Originally recorded by Roy Hamilton, this would become Timi Yuro's most enduring hit.]

(I've Been) Lonely Too Long - Young Rascals [3/67; #16 Pop, #33 R&B. This seasoned bar band from the NYC area featured the soulful vocals of both organist Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati. This was the first of their self-penned songs to be a big crossover hit.]

Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye - Casinos [1/67; #6. The soulful "throwback" sounds of this white band from the mid-west featured a dripping B-3 organ and a rich Doo Wop-styled vocal arrangement. I was certain they were black until I saw them on a PBS "Oldies" show!  Written by John D. Loudermilk.]



Everytime – Linda Carr [11/67; Bell Records 45, dnc. This was Muscle Shoals veterans Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham's attempt to write and produce a "Motown" single. It didn't chart, but it certainly sounded like a Motor City record.] 

Tell Mama - Etta James [11/67; #23 Pop, #10 R&B. Chess Records' star vocalist had reached an impasse on the Pop and R&B charts, so label chief Leonard Chess decided to try the formula that revived Aretha's career. She arrived in Muscle Shoals and came away with the biggest hit she'd had in years.]


Slip Away - Clarence Carter [7/68; #6 Pop, #2 R&B (2 weeks).]

 Hey Jude - Wilson Pickett [1/69; #23 Pop, #13 R&B. Featuring Muscle Shoals' newest studio player (and the first to show up wearing bell bottoms, a flowered shirt and shoulder-length hair): Duane Allman. Allman persuaded Pickett to record the Beatles smash (which was still on the chart as this one was climbing into the Top 40), and it was one of the most exciting records of the year.]

* Bring it On Home - Animals [5/65; #32. This was recorded at the same time Herman's Hermits recorded a Sam Cooke tune. The Hermits won the chart race (5/65; #4), but the Animals epitomize white Soul music. The fix must've been in....]

I've Been Hurt - Bill Deal & Rhondells [4/69; #35. These perennial Carolina "Beach Music" favorites featured blazing horns and some very soulful singing.]


Oh How Happy - Shades of Blue [5/66; #12. "Blue-eyed soul vocal group from Detroit, MI." - Billboard Magazine. 'Nuff said.  Written and produced by Edwin Starr ("War", "25 Miles"]


You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling - Righteous Brothers [2/65; #1 Pop, #3 R&B. Phil Spector's majestic recording has gone on to become the most-played record on radio. Here goes another tally mark in that category!]

Treat Her Right - Roy Head & The Traits  [9/65; #2 Pop, #2 R&B. Hailing from Beaumont, Texas, The Traits included a young albino guitar player named Johnny Winter. Roy Head had moves like James Brown (check out the whole video! It's short and pretty amazing).]

Expressway to Your Heart - Soul Survivors [9/67; #4 Pop, #3 R&B. Written and produced by Gamble & Huff, masterminds behind "The Sound of Philadelphia" in the '70s.


* Get it While You Can - Janis Joplin [9/71; #78. Originally recorded by Howard Tate, this was a great example of Janis Joplin's soulful delivery.]

* Funky Broadway - Wilson Pickett [8/67; #8 Pop, #1 R&B. The hits just kept on coming for "The Wicked Pickett" in Muscle Shoals....]

Sweet Soul Music Medley, Pt. I (Ain't Too Proud to Beg, Ooh Baby Baby, I Can't Help Myself) - Magnificent Men [9/67; #90. Recorded "live" and capturing the band's tribute to some of the acts they'd toured with and met on the road.]


More Today Than Yesterday - Spiral Starecase [4/69; #12. Lead vocalist Pat Upton sounds like he's from the West Indies. Turns out he's just a white kid from Southern California!]



* Five O-Clock World - The Vogues [11/65; #4. A brief departure from our Blue-Eyed Soul/Muscle Shoals extravaganza....] 

Work to Do - Average White Band [10/74; b-side of "Pick Up the Pieces" for this Scottish soul band. This song was originally recorded by the Isley Brothers.

Sittin' in the Park - Georgie Fame [12/66; #12 UK. Originally recorded by Billy Stewart, this was one of a string of soul covers by the British vocalist/organ player who later went onto lead Van Morrison's touring band.]


Oh Me, Oh My (I'm a Fool For You) - Lulu [1/70; #20. From Glasgow, this diminutive songstress possessed a "Lulu" of a voice (hence her stage name). This record was recorded in Muscle Shoals.]


Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield [11/68; #10. The London singer recorded a break-through album in Memphis that featured this classic (originally offered to Aretha Franklin, who turned it down as bordering on blasphemous). Despite this, Aretha did a cover in 1970 as well as a cover of "Oh Me Oh My" in 1972]

 * Go Where You Wanna Go - Fifth Dimension [1/67; #16 Pop. This one could probably go under the category of "Brown-Eyed Pop." It was the first release for this Black Pop group (produced by Johnny Rivers) and had originally been recorded by the Mamas & Papas.

 She's Gone - Hall & Oates [2/74; #60 Pop. Re-released 10/76; #7 Pop, #93 R&B. This record pretty much flopped its first time out. A version by Tavares reached #1 R&B and a subsequent re-release yielded a smash hit. This is the full-length LP version.]

(I Know) I'm Losing You - Rare Earth [3/70; #7 Pop, #20 R&B. Motown Records signed this white bar band and assigned them their very own label ("Rare Earth Records"). The single version of this Temptations cover has never been released on CD or LP, but you get it here on your radio tonight!]


Get Involved - George Soule [10/73; #35 R&B. This songwriter and Muscle Shoals studio guy recorded his own Black Power anthem, but few record buyers knew that he was a white guy from Alabama.]


I'll Take You There - Staple Singers [4/72; #1 Pop, #1 R&B (4 weeks). This record prompted Paul Simon to call Rick Hall and say he wanted to record "with those black guys who were on the Staple Singers records." They, of course, were a bunch of white guys including Barry Beckett and David Hood (both mentioned in the song by Mavis Staples: "play your bass, Little David").]

One Bad Apple - Osmonds [2/71; #1 Pop (5 weeks), #6 R&B. Hoping to capitalize on the success of Motown's Jackson Five, the Osmonds' management team sent them to Muscle Shoals. It worked out pretty well for the boys....]


Patches - Clarence Carter [7/70; #4 Pop, #2 R&B]

CLOSING THEME:  Sleepwalk – Santo & Johnny (1959, #1 for two weeks)

Host Next Week (5-10-14):  JR with a spotlight to be revealed soon....

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