Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (1967)

Aretha Franklin is a highly successful American soul singer and musician.

Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis in 1942, her father being the preacher C.L. Franklin, and her mother Barbara Franklin a talented pianist and singer, though they separated when she was young. When she was a child her family moved first to New York and then Detroit, where her father founded the New Bethel Baptist Church. Aretha began performing in church as a child, and went on tour with her father, subsequently recording a gospel album called Songs Of Faith in 1956, aged just fourteen. In 1960 she moved to New York City and signed to Columbia Records, where she started recording secular music. "Today I Sing The Blues" gave her a #10 R&B hit that same year. She stayed with Columbia for 6 years, and recorded a total of nine albums, featuring R&B, gospel, jazz and pop standards. Though she had a few more modest R&B hits she achieved no mainstream success, and it is generally accepted that when with Columbia she never reached her true potential.
Things changed when in 1966, with her Columbia contract up, she was signed to Atlantic Records by Jerry Wexler. He knew exactly what to do with her, and in January 1967 took her to record at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where Wexler has recently had success with Wilson Pickett. Wexler also invited guitarist Chips Moman and bassist Tommy Cogbill from Memphis, joining the Fame musicians Spooner Oldham (keyboards), Jimmy Johnson (guitar) and Roger Hawkins (drums). Dan Penn also came along for the ride (he had recently left Fame and was then working with Chips Moman in Memphis). Franklin brought one song with her, "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)", by Ronnie Shannon, and Penn and Moman wrote another for her, finishing it off whilst they were there in the studio. The first song came together perfectly, though the second song went unfinished. The session was interrupted by some sort of argument (accounts vary as to what actually happened), and when the musicians returned to the studio the next day they found Aretha had returned to New York with her husband, and that was the end of her time at Fame.
However she finished the Penn-Moman song back in New York, adding her own piano and getting her sisters to sing backup. Wexler released "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" backed with "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man", and the result was an instant smash, as Aretha found the sound she had been searching for. As the single got airplay, Wexler invited the Muscle Shoals and Memphis musicians up to New York to continue the sessions, and a full album was recorded. "I Never Loved A Man" became a #1 R&B hit and also reached #9 on the pop charts, and this was soon followed by her brilliant cover of Otis Redding's "Respect", which got to #1 on both charts. The album itself was a classic, and also featured exciting covers of Sam Cooke's "Good Times" and "A Change Is Gonna Come", plus Ray Charles' "Drown In My Own Tears" and some excellent originals. The album charted at #1 R&B / #2 pop itself, and with this one LP Aretha Franklin exploded onto the soul scene, at last asserting herself as the genre's top female artist. 

Take It Like You Give It (1967) <|> Aretha Arrives (1967)


B.J. Thomas - Young And In Love (1969)

B.J. Thomas is an American singer best known for his hits of the 60s and 70s.

Young And In Love was B.J. Thomas' second album to be recorded at Chips Moman's American Sound Studio in Memphis, following the success he'd had with the hits "Eyes Of A New York Woman" and "Hooked On A Feeling", recorded there the previous year. It was another fantastic product of the studio, the production and arrangements arguably deserving just as much credit as Thomas himself, as well as the studio's experienced team of musicians (Reggie Young, Tommy Cogbill, Bobby Emmons, Spooner Oldham, Bobby Wood, Gene Chrisman, Johnny Christopher, Mike Leech and Glen Spreen). He was fast becoming their favorite singer to work with.
The album didn't have any massive hits like the last one, but it did generate a modest follow-up with "It's Only Love", like its predecessors written by Mark James. It got to #45 on the charts. Other songs on the album included a soaring cover of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" (originally recorded by Dee Dee Warwick in 1966), Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man", and the Dan Penn/Spooner Oldham song "I Pray For Rain" (which the studio had already recorded with The Box Tops a couple of years before).

On My Way (1968) <|> Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head (1969)
More from B.J. Thomas


Carla Thomas - Carla (1966)

Carla Thomas in an American soul singer.

Following her debut hit "Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)" and its accompanying album in 1961, there was a four year period which saw no new Carla Thomas albums, only singles. 1966 remedied this by seeing the release of two new albums, first Comfort Me and then Carla later in the year. By now she was on the Stax label proper, rather than Atlantic.
Carla featured a great collection of tunes with the recognisable Stax R&B sound, with backing from Booker T & The MGs and The Memphis Horns. It included a number of country and pop songs given Stax makeovers, among them Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry", Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces" and Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me", and blues tunes such as Willie Dixon's "Red Rooster" and Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do". It also featured two great new songs from the songwriting partnership of Isaac Hayes and David Porter, both of which were released as singles and became hits. "Let Me Be Good To You" charted at #11 R&B, and then "B-A-B-Y" reached #3 R&B and #14 pop, becoming her new signature tune and her biggest hit as a solo artist.

Comfort Me (1966) <|> The Queen Alone (1967)
More from Carla Thomas


Jorma Kaukonen - Quah (1974)

Jorma Kaukonen is an American guitarist, best known for his work with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.

Jorma Kaukonen was born in 1940 in Washington, D.C.  He learnt fingerstyle guitar as a teenager, being a blues fan,  most notably inspired by Reverend Gary Davis. In 1962 he moved to San Francisco, where he played solo in the coffee houses and taught guitar. In the mid 60s he joined Marty Balin's band Jefferson Airplane, making the transition from acoustic to electric guitar in the process, and invited Jack Casady, a friend from D.C., to join as the group's bassist. Jefferson Airplane went on to be the most successful of the San Francisco psychedelic rock bands, and Kaukonen's distinctive lead guitar was a vital part of their sound. He also got to showcase his acoustic fingerstyle virtuosity on the solo composition "Embyronic Journey", featured on their breakthrough album Surrealistic Pillow in 1067. From their third album onwards he also began to sing his own songs with the band, though his vocals were always overshadows by those of Marty Balin and Grace Slick.
In 1969 Kaukonen and Casady began performing blues music together, calling the side project Hot Tuna. They began as an acoustic duo, with Kaukonen singing, and soon evolved into a full electric band, releasing two live albums. As Jefferson Airplane started to disintegrate in the early 70s, Hot Tuna began to take up more of their time, and they released their first studio album in 1972 on the Airplane's own Grunt record label. That was the year that the Airplane officially broke up, and  Kaukonen was now devoting all his time to Hot Tuna.
In 1974 he released a solo album on Grunt records.  It was originally conceived as a shared album with fellow guitarist Tom Hobson, but in the end turned out to be a mostly Kaukonen solo affair, featuring just two duets and one solo Dobson track. Whilst Hot Tuna were then leaning more towards an electric hard rock sound, Quah saw him showcasing the acoustic folk-blues side of his playing, with all the songs bar the duets being solo performances, though also with some surprising yet effective string arrangements in places. It was mostly made up of original songs, plus a few covers of Gary Davis and Blind Blake.

|> Jorma (1979)


Percy Sledge - Take Time To Know Her (1968)

Percy Sledge was an American soul singer.

1967 continued for Percy Sledge with "Cover Me", a fantastic new song written by Eddie Hinton and Marlin Greene. Despite its strength, it only charted at #39 R&B and #44 pop. However his next single proved to be one of his biggest hits - "Take Time To Know Her", a country-soul ballad from the pen of young Nashville songwriter Steve Davis, reached #6 R&B and #11 pop in 1968. His fourth album followed, featuring both songs and a great selection of others, including "Feed The Flame" by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, "Spooky" by The Classics IV, and "Sudden Stop by Bobby Russell (which also saw release as a single, getting to #41 R&B and #63 pop). It also found room for two hits from the year before, "Baby Help Me" and the superb "Out Of Left Field". 
The result was a very strong album (perhaps his best), but it turned out to be his last in quite a while. Though he continued releasing singles on Atlantic Records over the next few years, none of them would chart particularly well, and Atlantic released no new albums bar a greatest hits package.

The Percy Sledge Way (1967) <|> I'll Be Your Everything (1974)
More from Percy Sledge


Bobby 'Blue' Bland - Two Steps From The Blues (1961)

Bobby 'Blue' Bland was an American R&B singer.

Robert Calvin Brooks was born in Tennessee in 1930, and acquired the name 'Bland' from his stepfather. In 1947 he moved to Memphis with his mother, where he started singing in gospel groups. He also became part of the Beale Street blues scene, and was associated with artists including BB King, Junior Parker and Johnny Ace. Notably he did not play an instrument himself, relying on his voice. In the early 50s he recorded for the Modern and Chess record labels as he tried to find his musical identity, taking the stage name Bobby 'Blue' Bland - his career was interrupted by a 2 year stint in the army, and on returning he found that his fellow musicians had all become successful. He began recording for Duke Records, performed live with Junior Parker's Blues Consolidated Revue, and also worked as driver for both Parker and King.
He finally hit paydirt in 1957 with the single "Further Up The Road", which became a #1 R&B hit. In 1958 he shared a Blues Consolidated album with Junior Parker, and had a follow-up hit with "Little Boy Blue" (#10 R&B). More hits followed in 1959, with "I'm Not Ashamed" (#13), "Is It Real" (#28) and the superb minor blues "I'll Take Care Of You" (#2), which was written by Brook Benton.
1960 saw him find his own distinctive brand of blues, built around his anguished vocals and sophisticated horn arrangements from arranger Joe Scott. "Lead Me On" (which was tastefully orchestrated with strings) and the excellent "Cry Cry Cry" were both #9 R&B hits that year. "Cry Cry Cry" was recorded in Chicago, and six other recordings from the same sessions formed the bulk of what would be his debut album. Four of his earlier hits and one extra song recorded back in 1957 completed the album, and Two Steps From The Blues was released in early 1961. Two of the new recordings were also hits that year - "Don't Cry No More" got to #2, and "I Pity The Fool" gave him his second R&B #1.
It was a fantastic blues album, essentially a compilation of his many hits up to that point (with the exceptions of "Farther Up The Road" and "Is It Real"). More were soon to follow. 

|> Here's The Man!!! (1962)


The Band - Jericho (1993)

The Band were an influential and highly acclaimed rock band formed in the 1960s.

The Band broke up back in 1977, with Robbie Robertson's The Last Waltz film and triple-LP soundtrack being their magnificent swan song. Robertson went on to work on as a producer, film score composer and even actor (through his friendship with Martin Scorsese). Garth Hudson was much in demand as a studio musician, but the three members who had the best chance of starting solo careers due to their great voices (Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel) struggled to really make it by themselves. So it was that in 1983 the whole band minus Robertson got back together and resumed touring. They were helped by various other musicians to fill out the lineup, and in 1985 Jim Weider joined as their new full-time guitarist. However tragedy struck in 1986 when Richard Manuel committed suicide, aged 42.
They continued touring throughout the 80s, but they were now playing much smaller venues than they had in their heyday. In the early 90s they finally began recording again, with their old producer Joe Simon back on board. By this time the lineup had been extended to also feature pianist Richard Bell and drummer Randy Ciarlante, and many other musicians featured on the new recordings, though the core of the group was still the trio of Levon Helm (vocals & drums), Rick Danko (vocals & bass) and Garth Hudson (keyboards).
1993 saw the release of Jericho, their first studio album in 16 years. The absence of Robbie Roberson meant it relied heavily on cover material and songs from outside sources, though there were some good new originals as well. Two covers in particular were highlights of the album - Bob Dylan's "Blind Willie McTell" and Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City". Though it was received coolly by many fans and critics (who were perhaps wary of the fact that they only had three original members and not much new original material), it's really a brilliant album, some very tasteful roots-rock. It also featured one very special song - "Country Boy", recorded back in 1985, was one of Richard Manuel's final recordings, and among his very best.

The Last Waltz (1978) <|> High On The Hog (1996)
More from The Band


Mickey Newbury - I Came To Hear The Music (1974)

Mickey Newbury was a critically-acclaimed American singer-songwriter.

I Came To Hear The Music was Mickey Newbury's fifth studio album, his third on Elektra Records, and his first since his critically-acclaimed trilogy consisting of Looks Like RainFrisco Mabel Joy and Heaven Help The Child. Though recorded at a different studio (Youngun Sound rather than Cinderalla Studios), it followed in the same formula as its predecessors. Though it perhaps didn't include as many memorable songs, it wasn't much of a step down in quality, and made for another brilliant Mickey Newbury album (just not quite as essential as the trilogy). Notably one song, "Dizzy Lizzy", incorporated rock elements into the now familiar Newbury sound very successfully.

Live At Montezuma Hall (1973) <|> Lovers (1975)
More from Mickey Newbury


Dan Penn - Do Right Man (1994)

Dan Penn is an American singer and songwriter.

Dan Penn had worked behind the scenes in the Muscle Shoals and Memphis music industries all through the 60s, but his own self-produced solo album didn't come out until 1973. A follow-up album produced by Jim Dickinson never saw release, and for the rest of the 70s and 80s Dan Penn apparently lived the quiet life after having relocated to Nashville, no doubt enjoying a steady income from the myriad of songs he had written in the 60s which were still being record by all sorts of artists as the years went by.
It wasn't until 1994 that he released another album of his own work. Do Right Man was recorded back at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with a number of old musician friends from his days in Muscle Shoals and Memphis - as well as his old writing partner Spooner Oldham, it featured Bobby Emmons, David Briggs, Reggie Young, Jimmy Johnson, David Hood and Roger Hawkins. It turned out to be a fantastic album, with an earthy and authentic country-soul sound, with Penn's more mature voice still in fine form. It included many of his own versions of songs he had originally written for other artists years before, including "Dark End Of The Street" (originally a hit for James Carr in '67), "It Tears Me Up" (Percy Sledge in '66), "I'm Your Puppet" (James & Bobby Purify in '66), "Do Right Woman" (Aretha Franklin in '67), "Zero Willpower" (Irma Thomas in '79) and "You Left The Water Running" (all sorts of different artists through the 60s and beyond).

Nobody's Fool (1973) <|> Moments From This Theatre (1999)
More from Dan Penn


James Talley - Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, But We Sure Got A Lot Of Love (1975)

James Talley is an American singer-songwriter.

James Talley was born in Oklahoma in 1944. He moved with his family first to Washington State and then Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he studied fine art at the University of New Mexico. He started writing songs, encouraged by a meeting with folk singer Pete Seeger and drawing on the culture of the Southwest for inspiration. In 1968 he made the move to Nashville to try and get his songs recorded. He had a supporter in John Hammond Sr., who tried but didn't succeed in getting him signed to Columbia Records. In 1972 he was briefly signed to a new Nashville branch of the Atlantic label, but it did not do well and the Nashville office was closed after he had just recorded one single.
He eventually got to record his debut album by taking things into his own hands, and paying for it out of his own pocket. With 1000 copies pressed to distribute to radio stations and record labels, it was soon taken up by Capitol Records and saw release in 1975. It was  a fantastic collection of original songs in a laid-back, country-flavoured style, and it proved his worth as a talented new songwriter. It did not sell well, but was very popular with the critics, and still sounds fresh today.

|> Tryin' Like The Devil (1976)


Rare Earth - Get Ready (1969)

Rare Earth are an American rock band.

In 1969 Rare Earth were signed to a new Motown subisdiary designed for white rock acts such as themselves - Motown had still to give the new label a surprise, and to the band's surprise they decided to name it Rare Earth. Their second album came out in 1969, consisting of some solid, hard-driving R&B-flavoured rock with the focus on lots of lengthy solos from all band members. It featured covers of John D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road", Traffic's "Feelin' Alright", Savoy Brown's "Train To Nowhere" and The Temptations' "Get Ready", the last of which was drawn out into a 20 minute jam.
A radio edit of the "Get Ready" jam was released as a single a became a surprise hit, charting at #4 (better than The Tempations' original had done in 1964). The song effectively launched the band's career, and the album itself charted at #12.

Dreams / Answers (1968) <|> Ecology (1970)
More from Rare Earth


Charlie Rich - The Sun Sessions (1958-1963)

Charlie Rich was an American singer-songwriter and pianist, best known for his success as a country artist.

Charlie Rich was born in rural Arkansas in 1932, and raised on a musical diet of gospel, blues and country - he learned to play blues piano from C.J. Allen, a black sharecropper working on his family's land. He married Margaret Ann Greene in 1952 and joined the US Air Force in 1953. On leaving the military in 1956 he began to play jazz and R&B in clubs around the Memphis area, and also began writing his own material. In the late 50s he became a regular session musician at Sam Phillips' Sun Records, and also wrote songs for Sun artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Smith and Johnny Cash. The demos he recorded himself were deemed too jazzy by Phillips, so he was steered in the direction of rockabilly in hope of some commercial success of his own. It paid off in 1960 with the single "Lonely Weekends", with it's Elvis Presley-like vocals, which charted at #22. However none of the follow-up singles charted, and he left Sun in 1963.
This is a good compilation bringing together eighteen of his recordings from the Sun years, with the focus mostly on rockabilly, but also with some very good jazz and blues flavoured recordings, which show where his talents really lied right from the start of his career. The highlight is undoubtedly his own composition "Who Will The Next Fool Be", which was recorded by Bobby 'Blue' Bland for a Top 20 R&B hit in 1962.


Bob Dylan - Dylan (1973)

Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter who emerged out of the early 60s folk revival to become an informal chronicler and reluctant figurehead of social unrest. He famously made the move from folk music to electric rock in the mid-60s, and has remained a major figure in music for five decades.

In 1973 Bob Dylan's contract with Columbia Records expired, and he signed with David Geffen's Asylum label. He began recording a new album with his old friends The Band, and plans were announced for him to go on tour for the first time since 1966. Columbia were keen to get another product out of him in time for the new tour, and cobbled together a number of outtakes to make the Dylan album, which was released in late 1973. Due to the fact that Dylan himself had no input concerning its compilation, it is generally not considered a 'proper' Bob Dylan album. The fact that it featured no originals songs and consisted of outtakes from his least popular two albums (Self Portrait and New Morning) didn't help. The songs were all traditional folk numbers and covers, the latter including his renditions of some very well known songs, among them Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi", Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr Bojangles" and Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love".
The album was dismissed by critics on its release, and though the music of course isn't bad, it can be seen as a rather pointless release on the part of Columbia to cash in on him one more time.

Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (1973) <|> Planet Waves (1974)
More from Bob Dylan


Earl Gaines - The Best Of Luck To You (1966)

Earl Gaines was an American R&B singer.

Earl Gaines was born in Decatur, Alabama in 1935. In the early 50s he moved to Nashville, and found work both singing and playing drums in R&B clubs. He worked with the band Louis Brooks and his Hi-Toppers, and also sang on demos for R&B songwriter Ted Jarrett. He recorded one of Jarrett's songs with the Hi-Toppers, "It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)" , and it became a massive hit when released on Excello Records, getting to #2 on the national R&B chart. There were more singles with the Hi-Toppers, but as Louis Brooks was unwilling to tour Gaines soon went solo. Over the next few years he recorded singles for various small labels, but gradually the touring became less frequent, and by the 60s was having to find work outside the music industry to support himself.
In 1966 he was signed to the HBR label with the help of Nashville radio DJ Bill 'Hoss' Allen, who also became his producer. His first single with the label, "The Best Of Luck To You", became a #28 R&B hit. He also recorded a full album that was released on HBR, featuring some really great southern soul and blues material, including a re-recording of "24 Hours A Day". However they did mange to mispell his name on the cover!

|> Lovin' Blues (1968)


Cowboy - Reach For The Sky (1970)

Cowboy were an American country-rock band.

Cowboy were formed in Jacksonville, Florida 1969 by guitarists Tommy Talton and Scott Boyer, both of whom had just left bands of their own - Talton had been with We The People, and Boyer with The 31st Of February. Boyer's group had had the good fortune of befriending the brothers Duane and Gregg Allman, and had actually recorded an album with them in 1968 (it didn't see release until 1972). Butch Trucks had been the drummer for The 31st Of February, and he went on to become a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, who were signed to Capricorn Records in 1969. When Boyer and Talton put together their new group, Duane Allman reccomended them to Capricorn's Phil Walden, who promptly signed them as well.
Their debut album, Reach For The Sky, was released in 1970. Stylistically it was rootsy country-rock, laid-back and mostly acoustic, with nice vocal harmonies. The songs were all originals, with both Talton and Boyer proving to be good singers and songwriters. Other members of the band were bassist George Clark, drummer Tom Wynn (who had been in We The People with Talton), and keyboard player Bill Pilmore.

|> 5'll Getcha Ten (1971)


Eric Burdon & War - The Black-Man's Burdon (1970)

War is an American funk band, formed in 1969 and originally fronted by British singer Eric Burdon.

The second album from the union of British singer Eric Burdon and the band War was released in 1970, close on the heels of their debut. It was a double LP set, sprawling and experimental like the most notorious double albums are. The Black-Man's Burdon is the sort of record that will always divide listeners - some will love it, whislt many will call it tedious and overindulgent. It featured covers of The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" and The Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin", the first in a 10-minute multi-part suite, and the second appearing twice within the first half of the album. Elsewhere it featured lots of instrumental jamming overlaid with Burdon's rambling and shouting.
The focus was starting to shift towards the awesome funk-jazz-R&B backing of War, and Burdon's role in the ensemble was becoming questionable. This was best exemplified on the closing track "They Can't Take Away Our Music", where the members of War sang and proved themselves to be excellent vocalists (released as a single, it got to #50). The union wouldn't last much longer, and Burdon left the group during a European tour. By 1971 they had begun recording as just War.

Eric Burdon Declares 'War' (1970) <|> War (1971) 
More from Eric Burdon & War 


The Impressions - People Get Ready (1965)

The Impressions are an American R&B vocal group originally formed in 1958. 

The Impresssions' first album of 1965 was a solid collection of uptown, brassy Chicago soul tunes, all from the pen of Curtis Mayfield. It featured two songs that were hits that year, the first being "Woman's Got Soul", which charted at #9 R&B and #29 Pop. The second song, which gave the album it's name, proved to be something special. "People Get Ready" was a gospel-influenced composition that demonstrated the growing sophistication of Mayfield's writing, and it went on to become something of a much-loved soul standard. It still endures today as The Impressions' best-known song, though not quite their highest charting - it got to #3 R&B and #14 Pop. 
Elsewhere on the album was the single "You Must Believe Me", which had already charted as a Top 20 single the year before. The album itself topped the R&B chart.

Keep On Pushing (1964) <|> One By One (1965)
More from The Impressions


Dion - Sit Down Old Friend (1970)

Dion is an American singer-songwriter, best known for his string of hits in the early 60s.

By the end of the 60s Dion had moved from Laurie Records to the Warner Bros label. His first album with Warner Bros saw him take the brave step of completely re-inventing himself, or at least finalising the transformation he had begun a few years earlier. In the late 60s he had changed gears to a folk-rock style with the success of the single "Abraham, Martin & John", but for Sit Down Old Friend he took it further and peformed solo, the album featuring just Dion and his acoustic guitar. And he turned out to be a very skilled guitarist. Combined with his splendid voice and his passionate delivery, it made for a very effective new sound, the songs themselves being a mix of tender acoustic ballads and blues, including a cover of Willie Dixon's "You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover". The album was a complete success artistically, though not commercially (the one single released only got to #75).

Wonder Where I'm Bound (1969) <|> You're Not Alone (1971)
More from Dion


Irma Thomas - Take A Look (1966)

Irma Thomas is an American soul singer. 

1964's "Wish Someone Would Care" had given Irma Thomas her one and only national pop hit. Between '64 and '66 she released several more fantastic singles on Imperial Records, but none of them came close to repeating its success, the highest charting being "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)", which only got to #52. Her second Imperial album came out in 1966, and was mostly made up of the recent singles. It made for an excellent soul album, featuring songs written by Allen Toussaint, Jerry Ragavoy, Randy Newman and Van McCoy. Compared to her earlier Imperial recordings, most of the songs had a bigger, fuller sound that at times hinted at a Motown influence. 
Indeed it had plenty of potential for a big crossover commercial success (the title track in particular), so it remains a bit of a mystery as to why none of the singles sold well. There was one last single on Imperial, produced by James Brown of all people, before the label let her go. Not much was heard from Irma Thomas for a few years afterwards. 

Wish Someone Would Care (1964) <|> In Between Tears (1973)
More from Irma Thomas


The Lovin' Spoonful - Everything Playing (1967)

The Lovin' Spoonful are an American rock band originally active in the 1960s.

In 1966 The Lovin' Spoonful recorded soundtracks for two films, the first being Woody Allen's What's Up, Tiger Lily?, and the second being Francis Ford Coppola's You're A Big Boy Now. The soundtrack album of the latter was released in 1967, and featured a hit with "Darling Be Home Soon", which charted at #15. 
Following this lead guitarist Zal Yanovsky left the band, and was replaced by Jerry Yester, who had previously been a member of both The New Christy Minstrels and the Modern Folk Quartet. They also had a change of producer, with Joe Wissert taking over from Erik Jacobsen. Their fourth album came out later that year, with an eclectic pop-rock sound notable for orchestral embellishments on some songs. Three songs were released as singles and became minor hits - "Six O'Clock" at #18, "She Is Still A Mystery" at #27 and "Money" at #48. It marked the beginning of a commercial decline for the group, who also suffered from the fallout of a drug bust (Yanovsky had named his supplier, which hurt the band's credentials with their hippie audience).  It turned out to be their last album with frontman and main songwriter John Sebastian, as he left soon afterwards to start a solo career (retrospectively it can be seen that Sebastian was The Lovin' Spoonful, and stepping out of the restrictions of a group format could only have been a good thing).

Hums Of The Lovin' Spoonful (1966) <|> Revelation: Revolution '69 (1969)
More from The Lovin' Spoonful


O.V. Wright - Nucleus Of Soul (1969)

O.V. Wright was an American soul singer.

O.V. Wright's second album of all new material on Back Beat Records came out in 1969. Nucelus Of Soul offered another fine selection of southern soul gems performed with gospel-styled passion, with the emphasis mostly on the ballads, which was arguably where Wright was strongest. It generated no real hits, the highest charting single being "I'll Take Care Of You" (written by Brook Brenton and originally recorded by Bobby Bland back in 1959), which only made it to #43 on the R&B chart. The album featured a few covers, including one predictable R&B standard (Johnny Ace's "Pledging My Love"), and one rather surprising choice in  Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind"- Dylan songs weren't often recorded by R&B singers, but Wright's version worked very well.

If It's Only For Tonight (1965) <|> A Nickle And A Nail And Ace Of Spades (1971)
More from O.V. Wright


The Staple Singers - We'll Get Over (1969)

The Staple Singers were an American gospel and soul vocal group.

1969's We'll Get Over was The Staple Singers' second album for Stax Records, produced by Steve Cropper and featuring members of The MGs as well as keyboard player Marvell Thomas (daughter of Rufus and sister of Carla). It further explored the new secular, inspirational 'message song' format they had switched gears to the previous year, resulting in some fantastic upbeat soul music, with funky arrangements sweetened in places with strings. Most of the songs were covers, including Joe South's "Games People Play", Sly & The Family Stone's "Everyday People" and The Guess Who's "A Wednesday In Your Garden". One of the most unusual choices was "Solon Bushi", an arrangement of a traditional Japanese folk song.
The album didn't generate any hit singles, but it was another step in the right direction (commercially speaking). They were making the most of their Stax record deal, as the same year saw the release of Mavis Staples' solo debut, and Pops Staples recorded an album with Cropper and fellow Stax artist Albert King. They also recorded a song by Al Kooper for the film sountrack he was working on (for Hal Ashby's 1970 film The Landlord) - "Brand New Day" is included here as a bonus track.
It was also their last album to feature Pervis Staples, before he left and his place was taken by younger sister Yvonne.

Soul Folk In Action (1968) <|> The Staple Swingers (1971)
More from The Staple Singers


Paul Siebel - Woodsmoke And Oranges (1970)

Paul Siebel is an American singer-songwriter. 

Paul Siebel was born in Buffalo, New York in 1937. He served in the military before moving to Greenwich Village to play the folk clubs in the 60s. He was signed to Elektra Records at the end of the decade, and his debut album was quickly recorded on a small budget, featuring backing from David Bromberg (guitar & dobro), Weldon Myrick (pedal steel), Richard Greene (violin), Jeff Gutcheon (keyboards), Don Brooks (harmonica), Gary White (bass) and James Madison (drums). Released in 1970, Woodsmoke And Oranges was an excellent album of rootsy country-folk, featuring all original songs. It sold little, but proved popular with critics and other songwriters. Indeed it included his best-known song, "Louise", which by the time of the album's release had already been recorded by both Linda Ronstadt and Eric Andersen, and would later be covered by many others.

|> Jack-Knife Gypsy (1971)


The Fame Gang - Solid Gold From Muscle Shoals (1969)

The Fame Gang was a group of studio musicians working at Rick Hall's Fame Studios.

Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, was responsible for some of the best R&B and soul music of the 1960s, and one important factor in this was the team of talented musicians that called the studio their home and provided musical backing for all the singers who recorded there. Musicians who worked at Fame in the early days included Spooner Oldham, David Briggs, Norbert Putman and Jerry Carrigan. Over the decade most of them left for other things (for the most part in Memphis or Nashville), and in 1969 the rhythm section of Jimmy Johnson, Roger Hawkins, David Hood and Barry Beckett famously left to open their own studio across town (Muscle Shoals Sound Studio). This left owner Rick Hall needing to put together another group of studio musicians, which he did. The 'third Fame rhythm section' featured Junior Lower (guitar), Clayton Ivy (keyboards), Jesse Boyce (bass) and Freeman Brown (drums). Lowe had already been with Fame for most of the decade, and previously mostly played bass. Hall also managed to get himself a permanent horn section, consisting of Harrison Calloway (trumpet & trombone), Aaron Varnell (tenor & alto sax), Ronnie Eades (baritone sax) and Harvey Thompson (tenor sax and flute). This group went on to play on songs by Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Candi Staton, Bobbie Gentry, and many others.
They also recorded an album by themselves as The Fame Gang. 1969's Solid Gold From Muscle Shoals featured instrumental readings of hits from the same year (plus a few from '68), produced and arranged by Mickey Buckins. The songs included numbers by The Impressions, Joe Simon, Glen Campbell, Neil Diamond, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Blood, Sweat & Tears and others.


The Gregg Allman Band - Playin' Up A Storm (1978)

Gregg Allman is an American singer-songwriter and musician, best known for his role as lead singer and organist with The Allman Brothers Band.

The Allman Brothers Band broke up in 1976, with Gregg parting from his bandmates on bad terms. He was then free to explore a solo career, one which had seen such a promising start in 1973 with Laid Back. For his next release he put together a new band, and so 1978's Playin' Up A Storm was credited to The Gregg Allman Band. The band itself (which featured bassist Willie Weeks) was also helped out by a large cast of guests, including Dr John, Little Feat's Bill Payne and jazz bassist Red Callender. It was a good album, a collection of R&B and soul based tunes that included Ray Charles' "The Brightest Smile In Town", Candi Staton's "Sweet Feelin'" and Allman's own "Come And Go Blues" (originally from the Allman Brothers' Brothers And Sisters album), plus some good new songs.

The Gregg Allman Tour (1974) <|> I'm No Angel (1986)
More from Gregg Allman


Allen Toussaint - Motion (1978)

Allen Toussaint is an American musician, songwriter and record producer, an influential figure in New Orleans R&B since the 1960s.

1978's Motion was Allen Toussaint's first solo album in three years. He had only released five albums under his own name in over twenty years in the music busines, but his own recording career had always been secondary to his work as a producer and songwriter, which continued with no sign of slowing throughout the 70s (his song "Southern Nights" was a #1 pop hit for Glen Campbell in 1977). The new album was recorded in L.A. with local studio pros including guitarist Larry Carlton, bassist Chuck Rainey and drummer Jeff Porcaro, helping craft a sound quite different to his earlier self-produced New Orleans albums. The result was smoother and glossier, and not quite as distinctive, but nevertheless made for a great record. It turned out to be his last proper solo album for almost twenty years.

Southern Nights (1975) <|> Connected (1996)
More from Allen Toussaint


Eric Andersen - A Country Dream (1969)

Eric Andersen is an American singer-songwriter.

1969 saw Eric Andersen travel to Nashville to record a country-rock album, or at least one featuring full band arrangements that relied heavily on pedal steel guitar. It was a good idea, as his light, poetic singer-songwriter fare suited the countrified arrangements well, and let him fit in with the country-rock trends which were prevalent among the singer-songwriters of the day. An experienced team of seasoned Nashville musicians backed him on A Country Dream - Andy Johnson (guitar), Weldon Myrick (pedal steel), David Briggs (piano), Norbert Putman (bass), Kenny Buttrey (drums) and Charlie McCoy (various instruments including harmonica and banjo). Alongside some good new original material were covers of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" and the old classic "Lovesick Blues".

More Hits From Tin Can Alley (1968) <|> Avalanche (1969)
More from Eric Andersen


The Sweet Inspirations - The Sweet Inspirations (1967)

The Sweet Inspirations were an American R&B vocal group.

The roots of The Sweet Inspirations can be traced back to a family gospel group called The Drinkard Singers, formed in Savannah, Georgia in 1938, which featured Emily Drinkard and her siblings. Emily later married and became known as Cissy Houston, and was the mother of Whitney Houston. Her sister Lee was also the mother of Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick. The early 60s saw them develop from a gospel group to a group of much in demand female backing vocalists. Singers who were associated with the group during this transitional period included both Warwick sisters, Doris Troy and Judy Clay, all who went on to successful solo careers in the 60s. They recorded backing vocals for R&B artists including Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, Garnet Mimms, Maxine Brown, Esther Phillips, Chuck Jackson and most famously Aretha Franklin.
Eventually the group settled on the lineup of Cissy Houston, Myrna Smith, Sylvia Shemwell (Judy Clay's sister) and Estelle Brown. They first recorded by themselves as The Sweet Inspirations when signed to Atlantic Records in 1967. They were sent to Chips Moman's American Sound Studio in Memphis, where they recorded enough material for an album. Two singles, covers of The Staple Singers' "Why (Am I Treated So Bad)" and the classic "Let It Be Me", reached #36 and #13 on the R&B chart respectively.  One song written especially for them by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham gave them a big hit - "Sweet Inspiration" reached both #5 on the R&B chart and #18 on the pop chart.
Their debut album contained these three songs alongside a selection of cover material, including Wilson Pickett's "Don't Fight It", Eddie Floyd's "Knock On Wood", Aretha Franklin's "Do Right Woman" and "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream", Dionne Warwick's "Reach Out For Me" and the country standard "Blues Stay Away From Me".

|> Songs Of Faith And Inspiration (1968)


Larry Jon Wilson - New Beginnings (1975)

Larry Jon Wilson was an American singer-songwriter.

Larry Jon Wilson was born in 1940 in Swainsboro, Georgia. He majored in chemistry at the University of Georgia, and worked for ten years for a fibreglass manufacturer in South Carolina. He didn't actually take up guitar until he was thirty years old, but in 1974 he quit his job to pursue music full time. He was signed to Monument Records, and his debut album came out in 1975. New Beginnings introduced his own distinctive form of country music, together with some top notch songwriting, and he was quickly embraced as part of the Outlaw Country movement of the time. His sound was raw and gritty, combining evocative story-songs with some seriously funky Southern grooves, all tied together with his deep, characterful voice. Instrumental backing on the album came from guitarists Reggie Young and Johnny Christopher, bassist Tommy Cogbill, keyboard player Bobby Woods and drummer Hayward Bishop (the five of them being Memphis musicians relocated to Nashville, having originally been the house band at Chips Moman's American Sound Studio). It yielded no hits and did not sell in large quantities, but it did earn him many fans, several other better-known songwriters among them.

|> Let Me Sing My Song To You (1976)


Ian & Sylvia - Nashville (1968)

Ian & Sylvia were a Canadian husband-and-wife folk duo.

In 1968 Ian & Sylvia released Nashville, their final album on the Vanguard label. Technically they had already begun recording for MGM (the label on which the previous year's Lovin' Sound had been released), but some confusing technicalities meant they still owed one more for Vanguard to fulfil their contract. 
Like the name suggested, the new album was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, with help from a number of seasoned session musicians including Pete Drake, Fred Carter, Jr., Buddy Spicher, Norbert Putman and Kenny Buttrey. Over their last few albums Ian & Sylvia had expanded their acoustic folk sound to incorporate elements of both electric folk-rock and country music - Nashville unsurprisingly had a notable increase in country elements, and retrospectively can be seen to fit in with the country-rock movement which was then starting to take off. Most of the songs were originals, though it did also feature two of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes compositions - "The Mighty Quinn" and "This Wheel's On Fire".

Lovin' Sound (1967) <|> Full Circle (1968)
More from Ian & Sylvia