Sunday, 23 November 2014


This month I have mostly been diggin'...

1.  Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers - "Slow Down" (1964)
The Larry Williams chestnut given a fat soul club sound indicative of their live reputation.  

2.  The Master's Apprentices - "War Or Hands Of Time" (1966)
This rollicking garage-punk single, with its A-side "Undecided", is the greatest thing Australia has ever given the world.

3.  Paul Jones - "Sonny Boy Williamson" (1966)
Paul Jones and Jack Bruce wrote and recorded this tribute to the man who made such an impact on the British R&B boom after this death the previous year. Tucked away as a B-side, featuring only Jones on vocals and harmonica and Bruce on bass, its simplicity is a far cry from the bombastic (and let's be honest, rather naff) "I've Been A Bad, Bad Boy" on the A-side.

4.  Bob Dylan & The Band - "Blowin' In The Wind" (1967)
There's a heck of a lot to take in - almost too much, if that were possible - in the 6-CD The Basement Tapes Complete but it's great to drop in for short spells to earwig Bobby and the boys having a sing-song. The woozy, bar room band take of "Blowin' In The Wind" is an immediate favourite.

5.  Percy Sledge - "True Love Travels On A Gravel Road" (1969)
Countrified Muscle Shoals soul. From the title, to the pedal steel, to the horns, to Sledge's rootsy vocal, everything here is simply magnificent. If you only investigate one song from this list, make it this.

6.  Kelly Gordon - "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (1969)
I love the Hollies classic but check out the outstanding original version. Gordon's almost unbearably raw emotion gives it the kind of gravitas the lyrics deserve.

7.  The Stovall Sisters - "Yes To The Lord" (1970)
Lillian, Netta and Joyce Stovall began singing in the 1950s as gospel group God's Little Wonders aged just 5, 7 and 2 respectively. By the time of their only album the sisters had embraced elements of rock and roll into their repertoire and here, in a reversal of the more common practice, take a secular song ("My Baby Loves Me" by Martha & the Vandellas) and give it a glorious religious make-over.

8.  Archie Shepp - "Attica Blues" (1972)
Two weeks after George Jackson was killed in San Quentin, 43 people died during riots in New York's Attica Prison. The title track of saxophonist Shepp's Attica Blues is a righteous, defiant, fist-raising soul stirrer. With Henry Hull on lead vocals, it's as funky as hell.

9.  Five Thirty - "Out To Get In" (1991)
Last month I included Ride and they've subsequently reformed. Gonna try and repeat the trick with their superior Oxford neighbours Five Thirty whose 12 inch extra tracks were better than most band's singles. 

10.  John Sinclair - "Straight No Chaser" (2014)
Best known as MC5 manager, White Panther Party founder and counter-culture pot stirrer, Sinclair is also a poet, journalist, performer and major jazz head (check out It's All Good - A John Sinclair Reader for a good sample of his work) . On latest album Mohawk he raps beat poetry in an evangelical manner, backed by a small jazz combo, about Bird. Monk and Dizzy. It's passionate, warm and inspiring; part history lesson, part heartfelt tribute.  

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