r&b Archive

2017’s Top Ten You Might Not Have Heard/Heard Of

My brow furrows a bit when I read “Best of” lists published in November or early December; are December releases set aside for consideration in the following year? Or are they ignored? A look at albums released in the last month of 1967, for example, includes Jimi Hendrix’s Axis: Bold as Love, Traffic’s Mr. Fantasy,

The Fritz: A Vibe of Their Own

Keyboardist and songwriter Jamar Woods was part of an all-star lineup celebrating New Year’s 2018 at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre. Billed as the James Brown Dance Party, onstage that night were former musical associates of Prince and Brown as well as members of the Roots, Tedeschi Trucks Band and more. The assemblage of musicians

Boxed Set Review: Isaac Hayes — The Spirit of Memphis

Isaac Hayes was the man. Certainly, he developed an outsized public persona, with his bare chest, furry boots, wide-brimmed hat, chains and gold-played Cadillac (though not all at the same time), and that persona was as cocksure and swaggering as the description suggests. But the thing is, he earned it. From his days as a

Sidney Barnes: A Preview

Note: I recently conducted a wide-ranging and lively interview with Sidney Barnes; the result of that is an in-depth feature running soon in Record Collector Magazine. In the meantime, this shorter feature will whet your appetite. — bk Born in a West Virginia mining town, Sidney Barnes eventually moved with his family to New York

Book Reviews for the End of 2017

With so much of 2017 spent writing a book of my own, I’ve found less time than usual to read the works of other authors. Happily, three titles that I did read were all superb. Here’s a quick close-to-end-of-year rundown. Women of Motown: An Oral History by Susan Whitall Seeing Whitall’s name on this book

Album Review: The Fritz — Natural Mind

The phase-shifted synthesizer pads that introduce “Stuck in Between,” the opening track on The Fritz‘s new album Natural Mind, evokes thoughts of 1970s r&b outfit like the Brothers Johnson. But as soon as that thought forms, a repeating guitar figure enters, sounding like a more accessible version of the 1980s lineup of progressive rock giants

100-word Reviews for November 2017: New Music

So much great music and so little time. Here’s ten reviews: all new music, each summed up in 100 words. All are worth your time. Bryant Fabian Marsalis – Do For You? (Consolidated Artists) I struggle with a lot of current-day jazz. No matter how I try, much of it leaves me cold. Here’s a

Album Review: Sidney Barnes – ‘Sup’m Old, Sup’m New, Sup’m Borrowed, Sup’m Blue’

Sidney Barnes falls into the category of criminally under-appreciated musical figures. His career figures significantly into the histories of doo-wop, soul, funk, rock, pop and psychedelia. He cut “Wait” b/w “I’m Satisfied” way back in 1961, and while that record didn’t make a splash, it set him on a path he follows to this day.

Three More New Album Reviews

Cody ChesnuTT – My Love Divine Degree File next to: D’Angelo, Shuggie Otis Atlanta-based Cody ChesnuTT is the kind of artist who frustrates and fascinates – in equal measure – both critics and fans. His 2002 debut, The Headphone Masterpiece was roundly praised for its quality, all the more remarkable for having been a lo-fi,

Samantha Fish’s Soul/R&B Side Trip

Kansas City musician and vocalist Samantha Fish made a name for herself as one of relatively few female blues guitarists. She prefers to be measured on her own merits rather than as a female musician, though a 2011 album as part of a project called Girls With Guitars didn’t help much in that regard. But