Ollie & The Nightingales - Ollie & The Nightingales (1969)

Ollie & The Nightingales were an American R&B vocal group.

The Dixie Nightingales were originally a gospel group, formed in Memphis in the late 50s, when they recorded for Pepper Records. The original lineup consisted of lead singer Ollie Hoskins with Bill Davis, Nelson Lesure, Willie Neal and Rochester Neal. At one point they also featured a teenage David Ruffin, who of course went on to find fame with The Temptations.
In 1965 the Nightingales were brought to Stax Records, and signed to Stax's gospel subsidiary Chalice, on which they released three singles. A few years later Al Bell convinced them to make the move from gospel to secular music, moving them to the main Stax label and renaming them Ollie & The Nightingales. The change in style paid off, as they scored a #17 R&B hit in 1968 with the song "I Got A Sure Thing", written by Stax labelmates William Bell and Booker T. Jones. They released some follow-ups, but none of them charted as high. Around the same time they also featured as backing singers on Eddie Floyd's hit "I've Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)".
Their only album saw release in 1969. It was all recorded at the Stax studios, and featured songs by other Stax writers - as well as more songs by Bell, Jones and Floyd there were numbers from the partnership of Isaac Hayes and David Porter. It also featured their own version of "I've Never Found A Girl". Interestingly the album didn't actually include "I've Got A Sure Thing", but I have put it on the end as a bonus track.
In 1970 Ollie Hoskins left the group to go solo. The rest of them recorded a few singles without him before disbanding. Several of the remaining members went on to join The Ovations.


War - War (1971)

War is an American funk band originally formed in 1969.

War parted ways with English singer Eric Burdon in 1971 - he left them during a European tour. On returning to the USA they were signed to United Artists, and started recording as simply War, with the line-up of Lonnie Jordan (keyboards), Howard Scott (guitar), Lee Oskar (harmonica), Charles Miller (sax & flute), B.B. Dickerson (bass), Harold Brown (drums) and Papa Dee Allen (percussion). Without a dedicated lead singer, they now shared the vocals between themselves, which proved to be a winning formula. Their first album post-Burdon came out later in 1971, and showcased the formula of laid-back, funky grooves with flavours of jazz and Latin music that they had by now perfected. It featured six lengthy songs which gave the whole group room to showcase their instrumental talents. Of note was the closing number, which was a very strange one - "Fidel's Fantasy" perhaps showed that Burdon's influence was still heavy on the group.
The album was only modestly successful, the single "Sun Oh Sun" getting to #38 on the R&B chart. Though it wasn't a huge seller, it successfully established the War sound, and set the framework for what was to come.

The Black-Man's Burdon (1970) <|> All Day Music (1971)
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Bob Dylan - Planet Waves (1974)

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 lablel. At the same time he began working with The Band again, with plans for a big joint tour. Dylan hadn't toured since 1966 (when The Band, then known as The Hawks, had been his backing group), so this was big news, and resulted in a lot of media attention and eager ticket-buying fans. He also began working on new material in the studio with The Band. Asylum wanted the album to be released on the opening day of the tour, but due to a last-minute title change its release was delayed. When Planet Waves came out in January 1974, they were already two weeks into the tour.
It was a great album, personal in nature and somewhat bleak in tone. The Band's instrumental backing throughout was fantastic, and complemented Dylan's songs perfectly, though they not add any of their own vocals. It included some very good new songs, including "Forever Young", which went on to endure as one of Dylan's best-known numbers. There were actually two versions of the song, the best-known one which closed side one of the record, and an alternative version that opened side two. 
The album reached #1 (actually his first #1 album in the US), but despite its obvious strengths it was perhaps not quite the complete artistic comeback many fans were waiting for (it was his first 'proper' album of all original songs in over three years). Though it became one of his best-known songs, "Forever Young" was never actually released as a single. The comparatively lightweight "On A Night Like This" was however, and charted at #44. The new songs were played through the start of the tour, but before long they had all been abandoned except "Forever Young".

Dylan (1973) <|> Blood On The Tracks (1975)
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Emmylou Harris - Blue Kentucky Girl (1979)

Emmylou Harris is an American singer-songwriter.

In 1979 Emmylou Harris switched record labels, moving from Reprise to Warner Brothers. Her first album on her new label was Blue Kentucky Girl, which saw her focus on a traditional country sound, including covers of songs originally by Loretta Lynn, The Louvin Brothers, The Foggy Mountain Boys and Diana Trask. There was also a cover of "Hickory Wind", by her old musical partner Gram Parsons, and a countrified rendition of The Drifters' 1960 hit "Save The Last Dance For Me". The album featured several duets and collaborations - one with Don Everly, one with Tanya Tucker, one with Sharon & Cheryl White, and featuring with both Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton. Harris, Ronstadt and Parton had attempted to record an album together as a trio but didn't quite manage it, though songs from the sessions would appear on all three artists' records over the years. They did eventually manage to record the Trio album in 1987.
The album proved to be a big success, generating three hit singles on the country chart. The title track got to #6, "Save The Last Dance For Me" go to #4, and "Beneath Still Waters" gave her a fourth #1 country hit.

Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town (1978) <|> Roses In The Snow (1980)
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Albert King - Blues For Elvis - King Does The King's Things (1969)

Albert King was a highly influential American blues guitarist and singer. 

Albert King's third studio album for Stax Records was an unusual concept - a leading electric blues artist covering Elvis Presley's best-known hits. Blues For Elvis - King Does The King's Things was produced by Al Jackson, Jr. and Donald 'Duck' Dunn, both of the Stax house band Booker T. & The MGs. However it wasn't the MGs that backed King this time round, the instrumental support instead coming from Marvell Thomas (keyboards), James Alexander (bass) and Willie Hall (drums), plus of course The Memphis Horns.
The covers came off well, often being far removed from the originals in style, the set as a whole still having the funky electric blues sound King had made his own. The one song that was furthest removed from the blues and saw King singing at his most tender was, appropriately, "Love Me Tender".

Years Gone By (1969) <|> Lovejoy (1971)
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Marlin Greene - Tiptoe Past The Dragon (1972)

Marlin Greene is an American musician, songwriter and producer.

Marlin Greene started his career in the music business in the late 50s, when he released a number of teen-pop singles on a variety of labels. He was part of the Muscle Shoals music scene, and performed in bands (as both guitarist and trumpeter) with musicians who would would later go on work at Rick Hall's Fame Studios. When Quin Ivy set up his Norala Studio in 1965, Hall reccomended Greene when Ivy was looking for an engineer and A&R man. Ivy cut him in for 10% of his new venture, and Greene became his right-hand man in the studio. Shortly afterwards he married Jeanie Johnson, who had come to record as a solo artist at Norala (she soon settled into work as a backing singer).
Norala took off with the success of Percy Sledge (it was Greene who played the lead guitar on "When A Man Loves A Woman"), and Greene was kept busy as an engineer, producer, guitarist and songwriter. For most of his songwriting he partnered with guitarist Eddie Hinton, and their compositions were recorded by Sledge and many other R&B artists at Norala. In 1969 he and Hinton both migrated from Norala to the newly-opened Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, where he continued to work as a producer and musician, though he often returned for Norala for Percy Sledge sessions.
In 1972 he recorded a solo album at Muscle Shoals Sound with help from all his musician friends, including Hinton, guitarist Wayne Perkins (whom he co-wrote two of the songs with), pianist Chuck Leavell and the studio's rhythm section (and owners) David Hood, Barry Beckett and Roger Hawkins. Considering his background in soul music, Tiptoe Past The Dragon was something notably different, with a mellow, acoustic-based folk-rock sound.


The Meters - Look-Ka Py Py (1970)

The Meters are an influential American funk band from New Orleans.

The Meters' second album followed quickly in the footsteps of their debut, featuring a very similar collection of sparse, funky instrumentals from the close-knit musical partnership of Art Neville (organ), Leo Nocentelli (guitar), George Porter Jr. (bass) and Zigaboo Modeliste (drums). The title song, with wordless vocals inspired by the sound of New Orleans street parades, gave them a third hit, reaching #11 on the national R&B chart. However, despite now having three such successes to their name, the group weren't seeing much in the way of financial rewards.
Around this time they were still working as studio musicians for Marshall Sehorn's Sansu label. They also recorded a couple of songs featuring Aaron's younger brother Cyril on lead vocals (and written by Nocentelli), which saw release as the Josie single "Gossip" b/w "Tell Me What's On Your Mind". Both songs saw Cyril's fiery vocals fit the group's funk grooves perfectly, and their was talk about him becoming their lead singer, but it never happened.

The Meters (1969) <|> Struttin' (1970)
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The Allman Brothers Band - Enlightened Rogues (1979)

The Allman Brothers Band are an American band formed in the late 60s, considered highly influential in the genre of southern rock, and also known for their musical improvisation in concert.

After The Allman Brothers Band broke up in 1976, all members were kept busy with various solo careers and side projects for the next couple of years. However come 1978 both Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts were thinking were getting the group back together. Jaimoe and Butch Trucks both readily agreed to get back on board, though Lamar Williams and Chuck Leavell declined, preferring to stay with their jazz-rock group Sea Level. Betts brought in two members of his own group Great Southern to make up the numbers, and guitarist Dan Toler and bassist David Goldflies joined the four surviving founder members.
Their 'reunion' album was recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, produced by Tom Dowd, who had worked with them on some of their best early albums. It saw release in 1979 as Enlightened Rogues, with the group back on Capricorn Records again. The new album definitely had the recognisable Allman Brothers sound, and saw them returning to the duel lead guitar format. Despite being stylistically on target, it didn't really have many memorable songs to compete with their earlier work, though "Crazy Love" actually became a hit and charted at #29, their second biggest seller after 1973#s "Ramblin' Man". Elsewhere on the album there was a cover of Little Willie John's "Need Your Love So Bad" and another Betts-penned instrumental.

Wipe The Windows, Check The Oil, Dollar Gas (1976) <|> Reach For The Sky (1980)
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Percy Mayfield - Weakness Is A Thing Called Man (1970)

Percy Mayfield was an American R&B singer and songwriter.

Percy Mayfield was signed to RCA Victor in the early 70s, and during his time with the label he released three excellent albums in just two years. The second of these was Weakness Is A Thing Called Man, following quickly in the footsteps of Percy Mayfield Sings Percy Mayfield. Like its predecessor, it presented another excellent collection of effortlessly cool blues tunes, with Mayfield's laconic vocal delivery set to some notably more modern and subtly funky sounding backing arranged by Joe Jones.
Unlike its predecessor it didn't generate any chart successes. By now Mayfield was 50, and any hopes of having another hit single were long gone (it was now twenty years on from his #1 hit "Please Send Me Someone To Love"), but on his album he was sounding as good as ever.

Percy Mayfield Sings Percy Mayfield (1970) <|> Blues... And Then Some (1971)
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The Staple Singers - The Staple Swingers (1971)

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

In the late 60s The Staple Singers released two very good albums on Stax Records, both produced by Steve Cropper. Before their next Stax album, Pervis Staples left the group and was replaced by little sister Yvonne (so The Staple Singers now consisted of Roebuck 'Pops' Staples and his three daughters Mavis, Cleotha and Yvonne). Cropper also parted ways with Stax, so when it came to record the next album Al Bell took the production seat. He did things slightly differently, recording out of house at the Muscle Shoals Sound studio. When the album saw release in 1971 as The Staple Swingers, it had a somewhat more streamlined and admittedly more commercial sound compared to its predecessors. It paid off though, as this was the album that saw The Staple Singers break into the pop charts. Three singles charted, "Love Is Plentiful" got to #31 R&B, "You've Got To Earn It", written by Smokey Robinson and originally recorded by The Tempations, got to #11 R&B, and "Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)", written by Jeff Barry and Bobby Bloom, got to both #6 R&B and #29 on the pop singles chart. The album itself got to #9 on the Soul Albums chart.

We'll Get Over (1969) <|> Be Altitude: Respect Yourself (1972)
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Billy Joe Royal - Down In The Boondocks (1965)

Billy Joe Royal is an American singer. 

Billy Joe Royal was born in Georgia in 1942 and raised as part of a musical family. He first began performing as a teenager, was featured on local Georgia radio, and recorded his first single in 1962. In 1965 songwriter/producer Joe South  (whom he had known for several years) called him up to record a demo for a song originally intended for Gene Pitney. The demo led to Royal himself being signed to Columbia Records, and his demo version of the song being released. "Down In The Boondocks" gave him his breakthrough hit in 1965, charting at #9. His debut album followed, produced by Joe South and featuring many more of South's compositions. With Royal's quivering vocals to the forefront, it featured a distinctive style of pop music with hints of country and R&B, genres which were represented by covers of Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away" and Jimmy Hughes' "Steal Away". Two more of the South-penned songs saw release as singles and charted well - "I Knew You When" got to #14 and "I''ve Got To Be Somebody" reached #38.

|> Billy Joe Royal Featuring 'Hush' (1967)

Irma Thomas - Till My Tears Run Dry (1960-1966)

Irma Thomas is an American soul singer.

Between 1960 and 1966 Irma Thomas recorded for the Ron, Minit and Imperial labels, scoring two notable hits with "Don't Mess With My Man" on Ron in 1960 (#22 R&B) and "Wish Someone Would Care" on Imperial in 1964 (#17 pop). There were were only ever two albums released under her name during this period (and indeed the whole decade), the Imperial LPs Wish Someone Would Care and Take A Look. Her Minit recordings can be found on this compilation. Those three collections still leave a number of loose ends, which I have gathered together into this thirteen-song compilation.
The first four songs are her Ron recordings from 1960, both singles "Don't Mess With My Man" and "A Good Man" (the latter didn't chart), including their b-sides. The next two songs are the A and B sides of a single on the Bandy label. I can't find much information about this small New Orleans label, but it seems it released a lot of stuff originally on Minit, and could in fact just have been a Minit subsidiary. Indeed both these songs were written Allen Toussaint, and it certainly sounds like his piano playing on "Look Up". Whether this single was released before or after her other Minit singles, I am not sure. The last seven tracks are all from her Imperial years, mostly  b-sides but with a couple of a-sides which weren't featured on the albums. One of these, "I'm Gonna Cry Till My Tears Run Dry", is surely one of her very best recordings, and "It's A Man's Woman's World", produced by James Brown, was her very last Imperial release.

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Linda Ronstadt - Linda Ronstadt (1972)

Linda Ronstadt is a highly successful American singer.

Linda Ronstadt's third solo album was a self-titled release, produced by John Boylan, presenting a finely-honed country-rock sound with plenty of commercial appeal, a natural development from her first two albums. Three of the songs were recorded live at The Troubadour in L.A. in 1971. Six of the songs, including the live ones, featured backing from her touring band of the time, which included guitarist Glen Frey and drummer Don Henley. Other musicians featured on the album included  J.D. Souther, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Gib Guilbeau, Dean Webb and Herb Pederson of The Dillards, three pedal steel guitarists in Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Weldon Myrick and Buddy Emmons, and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section of Barry Beckett, David Hood and Roger Hawkins. The diverse selection of songs included numbers originally by Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Woody Guthrie and Fontella Bass.
Like her first two albums, it proved to be not much of a commercial success, which prompted her departure from Capitol Records. However it was surely an artistic triumph, and set the groundwork for her later successes. Another result of the album was that Frey and Henley from her backing band teamed up with Leadon and Meisner in the studio, and with Ronstadt's blessing they subsequently went off on their own as The Eagles.

Silk Purse (1970) <|> Don't Cry Now (1973)
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Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen - Live From Deep In The Heart Of Texas (1974)

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were an American country rock band.

1974 saw Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen release their fourth album in as many years, and it was a live one, recorded at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas. It captured them at their very best, sounding just as good as they did on their studio albums but with the added excitement of the concert experience. It also featured almost entirely new material, with only two of the songs having already appeared on their first three studio albums. Among the new songs were covers of Buck Owens' "Cryin' Time", Roy Brown's "Good Rockin' Tonight" and The Robins' "Riot In Cell Block #9". It turned out to be their last album on the Paramount label, and the next year found them on Warner Bros. It was also their last release with pedal steel guitarist Bobby Black.

Country Casanova (1973) <|> Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (1975)
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Aaron Neville - Tell It Like It Is (1966)

Aaron Neville is an American soul singer.

In the early 60s Aaron Neville had recorded for the Minit label, and had a hit with "Over You" in 1960. However there were no follow-up successes, and he didn't see much in the way of financial rewards, and so for the next few years had to work manual labour jobs to make a living. In 1966 a new New Orleans label called Par-Lo was started by George Davis, who invited Neville to record for him. The new material, mostly written by Davis with arranger Lee Diamond, was recorded at Cosimo Matassa's studio and featured local musicians including keyboard player Willie Tee and sax man Red Tyler. A full album of material was recorded, and there was one song that was destined to be a huge hit. The haunting ballad "Tell It Like It Is" quickly became a massive seller, and Neville went to tour across the country behind it alongside established R&B stars such as Otis Redding, Billy Stewart and The Drifters (his older brother Art went with him as his keyboard player, and his band also featured New Orleans guitarist Alvin Robinson). By early '67 the song had topped the national R&B chart, and also got to #2 on the pop chart.
Despite having such a huge hit on his hands, success was not coming easy for Aaron Neville. The Par-Lo label fell apart just as the song became a smash, and he didn't see much at all in the way of royalties. His touring was interrupted when he returned to New Orleans following the death of his father. And there were no follow-up hits to capitalise on the song's success. Back in New Orleans he formed a group with his brothers Art and Cyril - Art Neville & The Neville Sounds were for a short period of time the hottest live act in the city. It was from this group that The Meters developed, leaving Aaron and Cyril to form a new act they called The Soul Machine. It would still be many years before all four brothers finally performed together as The Neville Brothers.

|> Orchid In The Storm (1986)
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Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity - Streetnoise (1969)

The Trinity was a band active in the 60s, led by keyboardist Brian Auger and usually featuring singer Julie Driscoll.

1969's Streetnoise was The Trinity's second album to feature singer Julie Driscoll. It was a double LP set, and surely their most ambitious project to date. The music it contained didn't really fit neatly into any genre, being very experimental in nature, but perhaps could be said to lie somewhere between jazz fusion and progressive rock. Driscoll didn't sing on all the songs, as it also featured various instrumentals showcasing Brian Auger's dazzling hammond organ, and numbers sung by either Auger or bassist Dave Ambrose. As well as good original songs it featured an eclectic selection of covers - The Doors' "Light My Fire", Nina Simone's "Take Me To The Water", Richie Havens' "Indian Rope Man", Miles Davis' "All Blues", Laura Nyro's "Save The Country" and songs from the musical Hair.
It turned out to be the last album from the partnership of Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger. Driscoll's next release was as a solo artist, and after one more Trinity album Auger would form Oblivion Express the next year.

Definitely What! {1968) <|> Befour (1970)
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Booker T & The MGs - Soul Dressing (1965)

Booker T & The MGs were an American R&B instrumental group, best known for their work as the Stax Records house band during the 1960s.

After their surprise instrumental hit "Green Onions" in 1962, Booker T & The MGs found themselves kept busy as Stax Records began to take off. As the label's studio band, they backed R&B artists including Otis Redding, William Bell and both Carla and Rufus Thomas. They released several more instrumental singles of their own through 1963 and 1964, but none of them repeated the success of "Green Onions" - the highest charting was "Tic-Tac-Toe", which only got to #46 R&B. In 1965 a second album was put together, essentially a compilation of the singles released over the last two years with a few extra songs. All songs were band originals with one exception, a cover of Don Covay's "Mercy Mercy".
By the time of the album's release original bassist Lewis Steinberg had left, and he was replaced by Donald 'Duck' Dunn. Like the other members of the group, Dunn had performed and recorded a few years back as a member of The Mar-Keys, the original Stax house band from which the MGs had evolved. This gave them their best-known lineup of Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and Al Jackson, Jr., which would stick together for the next six years and witness the remarkable rise and fall of the Stax empire.

Green Onions (1962) <|> And Now! (1966)
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Joe Simon - The Chokin' Kind (1969)

Joe Simon is an American soul singer. 

In 1969 Joe Simon finally had his long overdue breakthrough hit. "The Chokin' Kind" (written by country songwriter Harlan Howard and first recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1967) gave him his first R&B #1. It also reached #13 on the pop chart. An album of the same name (his second that year) quickly followed, a great collection of songs showcasing his smooth country-soul sound. It featured covers of some recent hit songs, namely Glenn Campbell's "Wichita Lineman", O.C. Smith's "Little Green Apples" and Otis Redding's "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay", plus a look back to the doo-wop era with "In The Still Of The Night", originally by The Five Satins. The album generated two more hits, both of them again written by Harlan Howard - "Baby, Don't Be Looking In My Mind" followed "The Chokin' Kind" and charted at #16 R&B, and "Yours Love" would belatedly chart at #10 R&B in 1970.

Simon Sings (1969) <|> Better Than Ever (1969)
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Bonnie Raitt - Takin' My Time (1973)

Bonnie Raitt is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

Takin' My Time was Bonnie Raitt's third album is as many years. It offered up a good serving of mellow singer-songwriter fare spiced up with rootsy blues, pop, dixieland and even calypso. It was notable for being her first album which featured no original songs. Instead it was made up entirely of well-chosen covers and songs by other songwriters, the eclectic selection of songs coming from Martha & The Vandellas, Mose Allison, Eric Kaz, Jackson Browne, The Sensations, Randy Newman, Calypso Rose, Chris Smither, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Joel Zoss. Musicians appearing on the album included Jim Keltner, Taj Mahal, Van Dyke Parks, and several members of Little Feat (Lowell George was the producer initially, but apparently his close relationship with Raitt led her to switch to John Hall as producer).
It was a great album, and like its predecessors it was critically praised but wasn't a huge seller (though unlike the others it did manage to get into album chart, charting at #87).

Give It Up (1972) <|>Streetlights (1974)
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Rick Danko - Rick Danko (1977)

Rick Danko is a Canadian singer, songwriter and musician, best known for being a member of The Band.

Rick Danko was born in Ontario in 1943. Part of a musical family, he grew up listening to country and blues music. At 17 he joined The Hawks, the backing group for Americna rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins, who was popular in Canada. He was recruited as a rhythm guitarist, but soon switched to bass, which became his primary instrument throughout his career. In 1964 The Hawks (then consisting of Danko, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson) parted ways with Hawkins and went off on their own, performing R&B music in bars across Canada and the USA.
A milestone in their career was when they were hired to back Bob Dylan for his 1966 world tour. After the tour they were kept on retainer by Dylan, and Danko moved to Woodstock with the rest of the group (minus Helm), where Dylan was also living. There in the basement of the house where Danko, Manuel and Hudson lived, they made with Dylan a vast quantity of informal recordings, what would later see release as The Basement Tapes. These sessions with Dylan drastically influenced the way their music would go, and in 1968 they released their acclaimed debut album Music From Big Pink, then known simply as The Band.
With The Band Danko primarily played bass, and shared vocal duties with Helm and Manuel, all of them being very talented singers. The Band became hugely influential with their unique take on rock and American roots music, and were in no small way responsible for the move towards more roots-based styles that happened in rock music in the late 60s. Their career took them well into the 70s, until they finally parted ways in 1977 after a splendid all-star farewell concert that became the film The Last Waltz. Following the breakup, Danko took the opportunity to have a go at a solo career when he was offered a contract by Arista Records.
Rick Danko came out in 1977, being the first solo album release by any member of The Band. It featured all original songs, co-written with others including Bobby Charles, on whose 1972 solo album Danko had performed. Among the many musicians appearing on Danko's album, all four other members of The Band made appearances, and there were also cameos from Eric Clapton, Ronnie Wood, Doug Sahm and Blondie Chaplin, plus Rick's brother Terry on drums. Danko himself sang and played guitars and bass. It made for a nice roots-rock album, but it did not sell well, and his solo career never really happened. By 1983 he  had joined a reformed version of The Band with Manuel, Helm and Hudson.

|> Rick Danko In Concert (1997)


O.V. Wright - A Nickel And A Nail And Ace Of Spades (1971)

O.V. Wright was an American soul singer.

Most of O.V. Wright's fantastic 60s recordings on the Back Beat label had been produced by Willie Mitchell. Mitchell worked for Hi Records at their Royal Studios in Memphis, and by the 70s, thanks to his success with Al Green, he had become vice president of the label and was running the studio by himself, with his own tightly-knit group of session musicians. Back Beat was still using him to produce Wright, and so in 1970 O.V. Wright went to Royal Studios to record a fantastic new album, backed by the Hi Rhythm Section (the Hodges brothers Charles, Leroy and Teenie on organ, bass and guitar respectively, and drummer Howard Grimes) and The Memphis Horns. The first single from the sessions, "Ace Of Spades", reached #11 on the R&B chart in 1970. The next year saw "When You Took Your Love From Me" and "A Nickel And A Nail" get to #21 and #19, and the full album was released. It turned out to be something of a masterpiece, up there among the very best Southern soul albums, being testimony to both Wright's passionate vocals and Mitchell's production talents. It also featured a new recording of Wright's old hit from 1967, "Eight Men, Four Women" (which was still his highest charting single).

Nucleus Of Soul (1969) <|> Memphis Unlimited (1973)
More from O.V. Wright


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