r&b Archive

Album Review: Taylor James — Insane

For me, the use of numbers and capital letters in place of, y’know, actual words is a red flag: it was kinda dumb when Prince did it, and it’s wholly unoriginal now, a generation later. So the discovery of the opening track “Back 2 U” caused me to lower my expectations in regard to finding

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ Out-of-print 1990s Recordings Get a Reissue (Part Two)

Continued from Part One… Several of the songs feature a female voice in the mix, engaging in a sort of vocal sparring with Jay. What’s the story on that? He would bring his wife into the studio. And It was hysterical when those two started communicating! She’s in the background. She would go out there

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ Out-of-print 1990s Recordings Get a Reissue (Part One)

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (born Jalacy Hawkins in 1929) is one of those artists whose influence would far outpace his commercial success. Trained as a classical pianist and singer with an operatic range, Hawkins instead gained notoriety for his outlandish persona and over-the-top vocal style, exemplified by his 1956 single “I Put a Spell on You.”

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