r&b Archive

The Fire Still Burns for the Animals’ Eric Burdon

Many of the bands considered part of the “British invasion” of the mid-sixties drew from American rhythm & blues or soul. Some, like the Beatles, filtered those influences through their own musical sensibilities, creating something completely new in the process. Others – the Rolling Stones, for example – built upon a r&b foundation, initially playing

Album Review: Little Willie John — Fever

Little Willie John’s time in the spotlight was relatively brief; his album-making career on King Records lasted only from 1956 to ‘62. His debut LP, Fever, founding him roaring out of the gate: a dozen songs, all killer, no filler. Albums weren’t the primary musical format in ‘56, so Fever is to some extent a

Album Review: Johnny “Guitar” Watson – s/t

When one thinks of the bluesy masters of the electric guitar, the name Johnny “Guitar” Watson is sure to be mentioned. Watson’s second guitar LP mines a variety of styles; “Posin’” feels a bit like Philly soul, with massed backing vocals and Watson’s blues-shouted lead vocal. But when the master of the Stratocaster launches into

Album Review: Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America’s Forgotten War

Readers old enough to remember the long-running and beloved television sitcom M*A*S*H likely know that according to its creators, even though the show was set in wartime Korea, it was really about American involvement in Vietnam. But despite the show’s comedic framework, it managed to explore some important truths about that ill-advised endeavor in southeast

Album Reviews: Two Various-Artists RSD Releases

The Other Side of Sun, Part 2 Sun Records had seen its heyday come and go by the time Shelby Singleton bought the label in the late 1960s. But purchase he did. And with that, Sun became part of an impressive catalog that included plenty of hits in a wide variety of genres. Even though

Soul Stalwart: Sidney Barnes (Part 4)

Continued from Part Three… Barnes went on the road with Deniece Williams, too, and sang the male part of the Williams-Johnny Mathis duet, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late.” Initially, he did his part from backstage, but headliner Lou Rawls insisted he come out and sing at center stage with Williams. “Plus,” Rawls told him,

Soul Stalwart: Sidney Barnes (Part 3)

Continued from Part Two… Jackson got a deal that saw him relocating briefly to London, so he and Barnes parted ways. Around that time Barnes got a call from George Clinton, then with Golden World Records in Detroit. “I was missing working with him and he was missing working with me,” Barnes says. “We were

Soul Stalwart: Sidney Barnes (Part 2)

Continued from Part One… The group with Barnes and Feemster cut a demo recording “I spent $10 to make it,” Barnes says. He played it for one of the members of Little Anthony’s group, who loved it. They rehearsed with Anthony, and were heard by talent scout William Parker. Parker got the group an audition

Soul Stalwart: Sidney Barnes (Part 1)

Sidney Barnes’ early recordings and songwriting efforts are prized by aficionados of Northern soul. But that music represents only a fraction of his massive body of work. Barnes has had a career spanning more than five decades, and he’s worked extensively in a dizzying variety of genres: doo-wop, soul, rhythm and blues, blues, jazz, funk,

Hundred-word Reviews: Reissues, Archival Releases, Compilations

My shelf full of albums to be reviewed has run out of space. So once again it’s time for a raft of hundred-word reviews. All sixteen titles in this roundup are reissues, compilations and/or archival releases. 6-String Drag – High Hat (Schoolkids Records) Before Americana was coined as a genre, there was alt-country. Combining rock