r&b Archive

Album Review: Little Richard — The Rill Thing

By the end of the 1960s, it was reasonable to assume that Little Richard’s rock ‘n’ roll career was moribund. Though he was one of music’s most important figures, by 1958 he had forsaken secular music in favor of gospel. And while he would return to rock in the ‘60s, too often he and his

Album Review: Little Richard — King of Rock and Roll

Just slightly more than a year after releasing a well-received (if non-charting) comeback album in The Rill Thing, Little Richard returned with the audaciously-titled King of Rock and Roll in September 1971. But while The Rill Thing’s defining aesthetic was a Southern soul sound (thanks in large part to its being made at FAME Studio

Album Reviews: Three from Little Richard

Quite recently, Omnivore Recordings reissued a pair of long out-of-print Little Richard albums, The Rill Thing and King of Rock and Roll. The first was an impressive updating of Little Richard’s style into soul, and the second was an only-sometimes-successful attempt at making a thematically cohesive album. But there exist more albums from that era

Album Review: Dedicated Men of Zion — Can’t Turn Me Around

Right out of the gate, the strolling and assertive introduction to “Father, Guide Me, Teach Me” signals that Can’t Turn Me Around is not your typical gospel album. Music lovers raised on a diet of ‘70s arena rock may find that thoughts of Foghat and Bad Co. spring to mind. It’s not until the close

Album Reviews: Five from the Coed Record Label

Doo-wop – or r&b vocal, if you prefer – is an important part of the rock and roll story. The style began just after World War II, and doo-wop enjoyed its heyday in the early (read: pre-Beatles) 1960s. Doo-wop was primarily an African-American phenomenon, but many white groups got into it as well (and there

Album Review: Swingadelic — Bluesville

The point at which big band vocal jazz and r&b meets is one I enjoy exploring. And so, too, does the aggregation known as Swingadelic. On the New York City swing orchestra’s latest release, a wide net is cast, drawing from Willie Dixon, Mose Allison, Ray Charles, Doc Pomus, Duke Ellington and others, casting their

Album Review: Jimmy Sweeney — Without You

Another in the (happily and) seemingly endless stream of unearthed gems, Jimmy Sweeney’s Without You is a collection of songs by a singer who was all but unknown. His claim to fame lies in a story – possibly apocryphal but leaning toward being true – about a demo he sent to Sam Phillips. That disc

Album Review: Nat Turner Rebellion – Laugh to Keep From Crying

I’ve written of similar observations before; here I am doing it once again. It amazes me to no end that so many years after the fact, never-before-heard recordings surface, and the quality of the music is remarkable. So it is with Nat Turner Rebellion’s Laugh to Keep From Crying. Recorded in various sessions between 1969

Before the (Family) Stone Age: The Viscaynes (Part Three)

Continued from Part Two … One afternoon soon thereafter, Chuck Gebhardt found himself mowing the very same lawn. “Next thing I knew, a limo pulled up, and my mom got out,” he recalls. “Come on; we’ve got to go to Los Angeles,” she told him. Gebhardt hesitated; he was only halfway done with the grass

Before the (Family) Stone Age: The Viscaynes (Part Two)

Continued from Part One … Belying his eventual reputation as an erratic personality, the young Sly Stone was considered an engaging fellow. “He was a great guy,” Gebhardt says. In addition to being in the Viscaynes together, he and Sly “did plays together – he was a pretty darn good actor – and we played