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Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend 1951-64 (Abkco)

Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend 1951-64 (Abkco)

It seems a shame that this great soul singer -- who was shot in strange and sad circumstances in late '64 -- should be relegated to classic hits radio and soundtracks on the basis of a few of his hits: You Send Me, What A Wonderful World, Bring It On Home To Me, Another Saturday Night . . . Cooke's wonderful gospel-into-pop sound of 1959-65...

JJ Grey and Mofro; Country Ghetto (Southbound) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

JJ Grey and Mofro; Country Ghetto (Southbound) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Of course there is white country soul -- and here is the evidence, a voice from the white trash ghetto which aches like a Southern soul singer. There is a backwoods quality here -- real steamy Georgia funk -- but it is offset by the spirit of Memphis soul, the Allman Brothers, James Brown and the blues. Quite a meltdown and if it isn't...

Jimmy Norman: Little Pieces (Wildflower)

Jimmy Norman: Little Pieces (Wildflower)

Quite why and how this 2004 album has turned up only now is a mystery to me, but here it. Better late than . . . This old journeyman r'n'b singer co-wrote eight songs with Bob Marley in early '68 (a few appear on the Soul Almighty collection) and Marley recorded a number of his originals, and Norman apparently wrote some lyrics for the Irma...

Various: Eccentric Soul, The Big Mack Label (Big Mack/Southbound)

Various: Eccentric Soul, The Big Mack Label (Big Mack/Southbound)

The Big Mack label out of Chicago -- launched on a dollar and a dream by entrepreneur Ed "Big Mack" McCoy -- lasted 20 years from the early 60s without a hit, or even the suggestion of one. While Motown ruled, Big Mack struggled on the margins, and yet it also produced some exceptional if cheaply recorded and somewhat ragged...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Van Morrison: Keep It Simple (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Van Morrison: Keep It Simple (Lost Highway)

Another year and another Van album on yet another label . . . And with the reissue of his earlier albums drawing attention to great work like It's Too Late to Stop Now (read about it in Essential Elsewhere) it would hardly be surprising if this one was ignored by even longtime followers, many of whom might be picking up the remastered...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James Hunter: The Hard Way (Universal)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James Hunter: The Hard Way (Universal)

This Englishman with an unexpectedly soulful voice was one of the first artists posted at Elsewhere back in mid 2006 and that astonishing album People Gonna Talk was easily among the best of that year. But in this country with very little publicity (I saw none) it rose without a trace. Still, those who heard it got a wonderful slice of...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Eli Paperboy Reed and The True Loves: Roll With You (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Eli Paperboy Reed and The True Loves: Roll With You (Shock)

For the past week or so I have been listening to old vinyl by Dusty Springfield and Southside Johnny (a New Jersey bar-band chum of Springsteen and Stevie Van Zandt) and have been reminded again just how many white singers have been immersed in soul/r'n'b.And there seems to be a new wave again with James Hunter, Duffy and Beth Rowley, all of...

Opensouls: Standing in the Rain (Dirty)

Opensouls: Standing in the Rain (Dirty)

To be honest, I wasn't expecting to like this quite as much as I do. Certainly some songs lack a soulful punch and you'd wish for more power in the vocals of Tyra at times. But these people write a good tune -- albeit it grounded in Motown classic riffs and shifts -- and the edgy guitars elevate it a little more than I had anticipated. It is...

Mayer Hawthorne: A Strange Arrangement (Rhythmethod)

Mayer Hawthorne: A Strange Arrangement (Rhythmethod)

There's a lot of soul -- and faux-soul -- around these days what with Duffy, Amy Winehouse (is she still around?), James Hunter, Beth Rowley who gives it a blues and rock twist, Alice Russell with a funk spin and, on the local front, Opensouls. Of them all, on paper at least, Hawthorne might have the hardest task persuading an...

Van Morrison: What's Wrong With This Picture? (Blue Note)

Van Morrison: What's Wrong With This Picture? (Blue Note)

Wordsworth, more fool him, peaked early. The first edition of his groundbreaking Lyrical Ballads collection with fellow poet Coleridge was published in 1798 when he was 28. In the following decades (notably his revised editions) it was mostly downhill. Sure, he wrote some later stuff worth studying in late-degree Eng. Lit classes, but the...

Various Artists: Good God! Born Again Funk (Numero/Southbound)

Various Artists: Good God! Born Again Funk (Numero/Southbound)

The recent DVD Soundtrack for a Revolution showed how music uplifted the spirits and bonded those in the struggle for civil rights in the US in Sixties. This terrific, funky and soulful collection of contemporary gospel has much the same impact. You don't doubt Ada Richards is filled with spirit of the Lord when she roars "I'm drunk and...

Solomon Burke: Nothing's Impossible (Shock)

Solomon Burke: Nothing's Impossible (Shock)

The extraordinary Solomon Burke has enjoyed that rarity in popular music, not just a second coming but a sustained one. Music history is full of acts who come back after their first seminal period but few of them -- Dylan a notable exception, the Searchers' story the more common -- have a sustained run of artistic as well as commercial...

Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It (Capitol)

Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It (Capitol)

The previous album by this white boy singin' soul music -- Roll With You -- was considered a Best of Elsewhere 2008 release but didn't quite make it into mainstream media or thinking. This time around, for a slightly lesser album, he's been picking up big press . . . and again he certainly deserves it. He may have come from Boston but he...

Jamie Liddell: Compass (Warp/Border)

Jamie Liddell: Compass (Warp/Border)

There is certainly no shortage of white soul singers these days (Hall and Oates seem to be making a comeback too), but Liddell from the UK brings a neat post-Prince funky skew and a techno-twist to his songs which, stripped of some of the considerable sonic effects and colours here, still stand as fine, inner-city soul vehicles for his high but...

Various Artists: Eccentric Soul; Smart's Palace (Numero/Southbound)

Various Artists: Eccentric Soul; Smart's Palace (Numero/Southbound)

An earlier volume of not dissimilar desperate, crazy, urgent, cheaply-recorded and often exciting soul from the Sixties and Seventies drew great praise at Elsewhere (see here) -- and, once again -- although you might never have heard a single name previously -- you can't help but be hooked by the sheer energy these artists bring. Smart's...

Tom Jones: Praise and Blame (Island)

Tom Jones: Praise and Blame (Island)

The late-career revival isn't uncommon these days (Bob Dylan, Bettye LaVette, Solomon Burke, Johnny Cash et al) but it still comes as a surprise, especially in the case of 70-year old Tom Jones who could have coasted into retirement with albums of interesting standards (in the manner of Rod Stewart) or even just pick up a few contemporary songs...

Van Morrison: On Hyndford Street (1991)

Van Morrison: On Hyndford Street (1991)

By the time Van Morrison released his double album Hymns to the Silence in '91, many of his longtime followers had moved on -- some disappointed by so many uneven albums, some just having enough Van in their lives. Over two discs, Hymns to the Silence was just too much Van, and even the most generous reviewers had to note many songs were not...

LISTENING TO VAN MORRISON by GREIL MARCUS

LISTENING TO VAN MORRISON by GREIL MARCUS

Music writer Marcus is so well ensconced in the pantheon of great rock writers that his books are universally hailed on publication. But this one -- a series of essays on Morrison's music which, confusingly, comes in the same cover photo as another similar Morrison book and appears in the US and UK entitled When That Rough God Goes Riding --...

JJ Grey and Mofro: Georgia Warhorse (Alligator/Southbound)

JJ Grey and Mofro: Georgia Warhorse (Alligator/Southbound)

Grey and his companions out of Florida have been pulling Southern funk, Memphis soul and dirty blues together for the best part of a decade now and their 07 Country Ghetto album should have gained them a lot of mainstream attention. But it didn't. This one – with guest vocalist Toots (of the Maytals), and hot young blues guitarist...

AL GREEN INTERVIEWED (2004): Soul from pulpit to the street

AL GREEN INTERVIEWED (2004): Soul from pulpit to the street

In Memphis, a few kilometres south of Graceland is a small church in Hale Rd, a sidestreet off Highway 51 also known as Elvis Presley Boulevard. Not many music lovers make it this far; they are waylaid by the fridge magnets, postcards and facsimile of Elvis' drivers licence further back up the highway, or are taking the tour around the room...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Eli Paperboy Reed

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Eli Paperboy Reed

Long an Elsewhere favourite, Eli Paperboy Reed's 2008 album Roll With You made the list of Best of Elsewhere for that year, and his follow-up Come And Get It of 2010 also got very favourable notice. Reed is a conduit for the great soul voices of the past -- Sam Cooke, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and others -- but he brings deep...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

The title here is certainly true: 63-year old Florida-born Bradley -- an exceptional soul singer who sounds like a distillation of James Brown, aching Otis Redding, the troubled Marvin Gaye, searching Al Green and the much overlooked Sonny Charles of the Checkmates -- has barely had a chance to dream in a hard-working life. Bradley seems to...

JJ Grey and Mofro: Brighter Days; Live (Alligator/Southbound)

JJ Grey and Mofro: Brighter Days; Live (Alligator/Southbound)

For a decade, Florida singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Grey and his band (sax and trumpet alongside lap steel and organ) have joined the dots between Otis Redding and Stax singers out of Memphis, the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and disaffected Southerns on welfare. A white guy who sings up an aching rhythm and blues...

SOLOMON BURKE INTERVIEWED (2002): The rock'n'soul preacherman

SOLOMON BURKE INTERVIEWED (2002): The rock'n'soul preacherman

Just exactly when soul music disappeared off radio and out of people's consciousness is hard to pinpoint. Soul - born in the church and taken to the street by Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and many others in the Sixties -- simply evaporated by the early 70s. Marvin, Otis and Sam were gone, and some say the golden age ended...

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN DVD REVIEWED (2003)

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN DVD REVIEWED (2003)

When music magazines make up lists of great players - best drummer, top guitarist or whatever - one name invariably appears in the best bassist countdown: James Jamerson. At which point most people might fairly ask, "James who?" Which is exactly the problem this exciting, moving, good-natured soul-funk documentary seeks to redress....

Hacienda Brothers; What's Wrong With Right? BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

Hacienda Brothers; What's Wrong With Right? BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

The self-titled 2005 debut by these old hands -- singer-songwriter Dave Gonzalez from the rockabilly outfit the Paladins, and guitarist/accordionist Chris Gaffney from Dave Alvin's band -- sounded somewhere between Waylon's wobbly warble and Willie's languorous delivery, and their album came with impeccable credentials: it was produced by Dan...

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