Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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BRINGING YOU THE STORIES BEHIND MUSIC + ESSENTIAL NEWS, REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS...

Column

Frank Elson - Checkin' It Out (Jan)

Frank Elson @bluesandsoul.com
Frank Elson @bluesandsoul.com Bobby Four Tops: Standing In The Shadows Of Love The Supremes: You Can't Hurry Love Millie Jackson: My Man A Sweet Man Epitome of Sound: You Don't Love Me Archie Bell and The Drells: Here I go Again Etta James: Dreamer Etta James: Tell Mama

It was 1968 or '69, I had been transferred to the Crewe office of the local newspaper I worked for, I had a Mini 850cc that a bit of financial luck enabled me to turn into a 1275 Cooper S... and I was just starting a love affair with an amazing dancing soul track that has continued right up to to-day.

A mate, Ged something (I am ashamed to say I cannot recall his surname), from Alsager, had it imported from the States and used to carry it around in the cardboard envelope, complete with American stamps on it. I seem to remember that it cost him one dollar.

We were regulars at the Thursday night Soul Night at Crewe Technical College where two brothers were the regular DJs. When we walked in whoever was on the mike would ask: âHave you got it?â Ged would take it up and it would be played almost immediately. It was a guaranteed floor-filler.

When I finally got a copy a few years later, the labels were the wrong way round and when I handed it to Andy Peebles to play on his Soul Train show on Piccadilly Radio, he, of course, played the wrong side 'cos I forgot to tell him.(it is not quite as good and he gave me a long, puzzled, look!)

That's four paragraphs gone without my mentioning the song. Can I do another one do you suppose? It was on the Duke label â from Texas â and was actually by an acclaimed Blues singer.

⦠and there will be âveteranâ Soulies all over the world â who still have forty year old copies of B&S in the attic - who have been shouting for the last few minutes at the computer screen or paper page (I can't work out if this column is for a paper mag or the internet one) 'cos I never actually kept it a secret that I adore âCall On Meâ by Bobby âBlueâ Bland.

Yes, in later years âShoesâ became the Bobby Bland track of choice on the Northern Scene, but I still find the faintly Latin influence of âCall On Meâ, along with the distinctly Drifters-ish feel to the vocals to be a far superior recording.

* Now, a confession. I have to admit that I never really went for the Four Tops in the same way that lots of other Soul fans did. Oh, I thought they were ok, but the songs didn't really compare to a lot of their contemporaries: The Contours, The Intruders, The Miracles etc and, of course the greatest male vocal group ever, The Temptations.
Let's just say I thought of them as second tier.

Then, just the other week, I heard the Tops âStanding In The Shadows of Loveâ on t'radio and it suddenly struck me how mind-bogglingly excellent this performance was. Mayhap I should look (listen) to them again...

* ...and whilst on the subject of t'radio. Apart from Soul shows I don't listen to it as a general rule, but it is hard not to catch bits now and again, in shops, garages etc.

As I am also not quite totally up my own rear passage music-wise I also pick up snippets of information about the recorded music industry, so I am aware that more than a few âveteranâ popular music performers have brought out albums full of classic Soul songs that are described as ...er... âtributesâ to the originals.

So we are forced to listen â on what appears to be, at the least, a weekly basis â to the balding former drummer of a rock band singing âYou Can't Hurry Loveâ when THE ORIGINAL RECORDING BY THE SUPREMES IS BETTER.

Go on, when did you last hear the Supremes on a non-specialist radio show?

* After retiring from my regular job with a daily newspaper I rather lost the point of deadlines â living with them almost every day of my 42 year career seemed enough.

However, our esteemed B&S leader, Lee, and the similarly positioned person in the Land Rover magazine I also still write for, may, on a good day, agree that I somehow still manage to hit the monthly date they still live by... more of less.

That's a slightly convoluted link in to the great, wonderful and marvellous, Etta James 'cos writing this before Christmas, I have to suppose that she will have passed away by the time you are reading it.

I have to believe in coincidences as I had just read the B&S review of Ms James' last album âThe Dreamerâ and decided to buy it, walked up to my office to order it via tinternet when I read online that she was terminally ill. I'm not an obituary person, there will be one, I am sure in the pages of B&S, but can I please just urge you all to search out Etta James' versions of âI'd Rather Go Blindâ, without a doubt one of the all time great vocal performances.

⦠and there it is, on the âTell Mamaâ album. Which brings us around to the fact that âTell Mamaâ was one of the very first Dancing/Northern Soul sounds that many people would have heard in those heady days of the 1960s. Many a Mod raced off to buy the album for the title track only to open a window to another world, that of Deep Soul. Yes, a lot of us owe that to Etta James.

* And finally... you daft lot seem to like the idea of my Northern âcollectionâ being on a memory stick with a few of you asking me what a certain number is.

I will not give you number one because that pre-supposes something special and, hand on heart, I can say that it's just the ad hoc way I shuffled them together on my hdd.

However, for the lady who said her lucky number is seven (am I really doing this?) it is Epitome of Sound âYou Don't Love Meâ; my age (cough, cough) twenty-one is Archie Bell and The Drells âHere I go Againâ; and the magic âtonâ (100) is Millie Jackson âMy Man A Sweet Man."

Please feel free to contact me with any Northern soul news/events info that you feel would benefit others at editorial@bluesandsoul.com Thank you.

DON'T FORGET, YOU CAN READ MORE FROM FRANK IN OUR PRINTED FEBRUARY/MARCH ISSUE OUT FEB 6

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