Sometimes it’s good to clear off the decks and get back to a guaranteed comfort level. That is what we are doing this week. Alternating great grooves with sad ballads, I hope we have conjured up some diamonds you might have missed in the '60s and '70s. The opening tune is a more recent vintage but owes everything to that previous era. So take a few minutes and let’s go back to a time that, generally speaking, is sadly missing from today’s musical world.
Below is a jukebox containing all the songs I picked this week. After you read about them below, go back and listen to whatever you like by just clicking on that title in the jukebox, or stream the whole playlist by clicking on the "play" icon at the top. It's free and it's the entire song. We're not selling anything. We're just in the business of hopefully making your days better by listening to great music.
We apologize to our readers/listeners who are trying to enjoy the playlists via mobile devices like iPhones/iPads and are finding that they can't; these are, unfortunately, circumstances beyond our control. At present, Grooveshark is not compatible with those operating systems, and in order to stream the playlist, you will need to use a PC or Mac.
1. "Soul Music" — Hidden Faces feat. Lewis Shaw (2:31)
Hidden Faces was formed as a studio group in 1989 by Frank Fitzpatrick and his songwriting partner, David Kitay. Although Kitay eventually left for a solo career, Fitzpatrick and Hidden Faces established themselves by scoring film soundtracks (Nuns on the Run, Highway to Hell, and more). Hidden Faces disbanded in the late '90s, but Fitzpatrick reunited them in 2008 (along with singers Lewis Shaw and and Michael Young) to create this, which is the title track to the movie Soul Men (2008), starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac. In his earlier days, Frank was my music editor when I scored the TV series Crime Story. I had no idea this was HIS work when I dowloaded it and sadly don't know how to reach him anymore.
2. "Same Time, Same Place" — Mable John (2:44)
Diving right into the Stax-Volt studios in Memphis, Tennessee in the heart of the ‘60s, it’s easy to extract this gem. Mable is a wonderful singer, but the swelling-in-and-out Booker T organ in the verses is what originally really drew me in. This became very influential in my B-3 arsenal of ideas, but it all started here. Damn, EVERYTHING Hammond started with Booker T!
3. "Somebody Been Sleepin' In My Bed" — 100 Proof Aged in Soul (2:31)
Motown’s hit songwriting-production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland eventually left Berry Gordy and started their own Hot Wax label right in Detroit. This is one of the many acts that they had a slew of hits with, so if it sounds like Motown, don’t be surprised — same architects!
4. "I Can't Take It" — Otis Clay (3:05)
Back in Memphis in 1957, rockabilly singer Ray Harris and record store owner Joe Cuoghi started the Hi record label with mostly rockabilly releases. In 1959, Elvis Presley’s bass player had the first hit on Hi, an R&B instrumental called "Smokie Part 2" and the ball rolled for quite awhile with instrumental hits by Black, Ace Canon and Willie Mitchell, an amazing trio of hitmakers. In 1968 Mitchell signed Al Green and started producing singles with him that culminated in 1971 when his lucky seventh single, "Tired of Being Alone," opened the door to making him one of the most acclaimed soul men of all time. Mitchell produced a slew of soul singers after that, all using the local Hodges Brothers studio rhythm section. Otis Clay was one of the standouts for me and I love the way he wolf howls before singing the title phrase at the end of each verse in this great track. And let’s not overlook his album cover shot (top)!
5. "I Got You, Babe" — Etta James (2:24)
Too bad they didn’t take a press photo of Etta James and Sonny Bono. Their looks would have had as much in common as the arrangements on each of their versions of this song. Etta had the better band — The Muscle Shoals Swampers. In fact, I was heavily influenced by the groove on this when I played the piano part on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” I kinda lifted it from the chorus groove on this record. Wish the fidelity was better here... but maybe not.
6. "I Wake Up Crying" — Chuck Jackson (2:15)
Chuck was one of the first artists to cover Burt Bacharach on a consistent basis. This was one of the first ones and Bacharach arranged and produced. It’s a wonderful track and they both gained from choosing each other. This is the original version, I believe. Few would cover it after this version.
7. "Listen to the Music" — The Isley Brothers (3:00)
Oh, brothers — Doobies to Isleys. The reverse was true on “Take Me in Your Arms” when the Doobs covered a track the Isleys had done first, although the Doobies aped the earlier Kim Weston version. This was a great idea. The Isleys knew exactly what to do with this and it’s guaranteed to keep you bouncing around the room in a manner different than the Doobie version.
8. "To the Other Woman" — Doris Duke (2:53)
Doris had more bad luck than good in the music business. This track, produced by Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams in 1970 at Capricorn studios in Macon, Georgia, went to #7 on the Billboard R&B charts and #50 on their pop chart. She had a good follow-up starting out but her record company folded and so did her good luck. What a shame. In 2005, Brit label Ace released a CD compendium of her best work. This is a great track and deserves to be more well-known and enjoyed.
9. "Finders Keepers" — Al Kooper feat. Ricky Washington (2:40)
So producer Bill Szymczyk (The Eagles) produced a record I did in 1982. We used some other lead singers on it and this track featured Bill’s gardener (!) at the time who was a mighty fine singer. This song was originated by the group Chairmen of The Board and it made the R&B charts. Our version didn’t, but I’d say it was worth a listen. We were all emulating the music we loved: Paul Harris on clavinet, Jeff Baxter on guitar, George Perry on bass, Joe Vitale on drums and percussion, and Tower of Power played horns. I’d say Ricky Washington was the secret ingredient. I merely played synthesizer, the guitar solo and wrote the arrangement. Thanks again, Bill and Ricky!
10. "Only So Much Oil in the Ground" — Tower of Power (2:52)
Good enough for me? Good enough for you! YEARS ahead of its time, the lyric couldn’t ring truer today and the funk is totally refreshing even the if the lyric isn’t, but it predicted the dilemma we are in today 38 years ago. Amazing and a good way to end the proceedings.