Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S



Mike Atherton's Selected 45s

Still they keep coming: not only soul 45s but also a very limited edition platter from one of reggae’s greatest hitmakers. I should clarify, which I forgot to last time, that the ratings are on the traditional B&S singles scale, i.e. out of five, not ten!

Gwen McCrae: Let Me Be The One (Sonic Wax 008)

Gwen McCrae has long since stepped out from the shadow of hitmaking former husband George; in fact, she reached the US charts a couple of years before his Rock Your Baby became an international smash. Let Me Be The One (Sonic Wax 008) was recorded in Germany just a couple of years ago and has been remixed by one Mousse T who sounds like a musical afternoon snack, but it’s serious soul food as Gwen’s muscular, assertive voice tells it like it is (sample lyric: “What kind of shit is this?”) over a backing track which is rich and full without being over-spiced, and a drummer who had probably had a row with his wife on the morning of the session and decided to vent his anger on his kit. This is arguably the best Sonic Wax release yet; like its predecessors it’s single-sided.
(Rating: 4)

Desmond Dekker: Sentimental reasons/Sugar And Spice (Trojan THB 7001)

Desmond Dekker was the first artist to reach no. 1 in the U.K. charts with a Jamaican-recorded tune, and Israelites was just one of a run of hits for him. But Sentimental reasons/ Sugar And Spice (Trojan THB 7001) has never been released anywhere in the world before, and finally makes it to vinyl as the first of Trojan’s series of severely limited edition 45s: in this case, just 250 were pressed. The official A side has Desi’s light tenor warbling amiably over a churning proto-reggae rhythm which sounds as if it dates from late ’68 or early ’69. But it’s the official B side Sugar And Spice which takes the honours: over a similarly jumping backing, Desmond and his Aces deliver the catchy song with verve and vigour, supported by a maddeningly memorable organ riff which stayed in this writer’s brain long after the track had faded. Grab this single while you can!
(Rating: 3 & 4)

Lisa Stansfield 8 – 3 – 1 (Sonic Wax 0060)

Lisa Stansfield gives a whole new meaning to the expression “Northern Soul” as she’s from Rochdale in Lancashire. In 2001, her Face Up album included a track called 8 – 3 – 1 which was scheduled for single release but never came out. Now, thanks to Jeffries pere et fils at Sonic Wax Records, it’s finally out on a 45 (Sonic Wax 006). After a spoken intro with various voices intoning “I love you”, Lisa sings the cleverly-written song in sultrily soulful style, joined by a femme backing group on the chorus which bears a resemblance to The O’Jays’ Love Train. The beat and the tune just pick you up and carry you along with them, and it’s easy to see why this number has become such a favourite with modern soul fans. With music as good as this, who needs a B side?
(Rating: 4)

D.C. Fontana Contessa/Snake Charmer (D.C. Tone 10101)

D.C. Fontana, a British band, were a new name to me when I received their album Six Against Eight a couple of weeks back, but apparently they have recorded before. That album portrayed a band resolutely stuck in a 1968 time-warp, playing in styles which were popular back then including psychedelia and soul. Now their record label has pulled the two most soulful tracks off the CD and put them on a cooking little 45, Contessa/Snake Charmer (D.C. Tone 10101). The A side is an instrumental which is a dead ringer for the Mar-Keys, with its tightly riffing brass, counterpointing baritone sax and overboiling organ and thumping beat. Singer Karla gets to air her ice-maiden soul pipes over a rampaging beat on Snake Charmer, with guitars, organ and brass pushed along by the propulsive drummer. Don’t miss these two fresh and zestful sides.
(Rating: 4 & 4)

Mike Atherton

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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