r&b Archive

Album Review: Sam Samudio – Sam, Hard and Heavy

“Wooly Bully!” Yes, if you remember pop music of the 1960s – fondly or otherwise – you will recall this garage rockin’ classic. With its wheezing Farfisa organ lines, manic-and-stomping delivery, the biggest hit for Sam “The Sham” and the Pharaohs was all over the radio (#2 on the charts in June 1965). The novelty

DVD Review: Ike & Tina on the Road 1971-72

If I told you there was a new DVD compiled of a bunch of Ike & Tina Turner‘s home movies, you might well shudder. Thanks to Tina’s biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It, in the minds of a whole generation of potential music fans, Ike Turner is a bad guy, and not much

Album Review: Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys – Say Yes

From a superficial standpoint, there’s not a huge amount of common stylistic ground between the music of Austin-based Akina Adderley (& the the Vintage Playboys) and Adderley’s grandfather Nat, or with her great uncle Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. But with a peerless musical pedigree such as hers, she can – no, must – be expected at

Album Review: Lou Ragland – I Travel Alone

Way back when I was nineteen, I was a full-time college student, but I also held down a part-time job in retail. I became friendly with a co-worker name Wade White, and our conversations often centered around (you guessed it) music. Our backgrounds couldn’t have been more different: I was a suburban kid, and he

Album Review: Father’s Children – Who’s Gonna Save the World

The story of Father’s Children is fascinating, but not altogether unique. Group comes together, develops a style, records an album, sinks without a trace. This Washington DC-based group recorded an album for Mercury at the tail-end of the 70s, but by that point they were past their prime, had endured myriad lineup changes, and had

Album Review: Ray Charles — Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection

The word Genius is thrown around far too cavalierly. At this writing, Michael Jackson (the self-proclaimed King of Pop) has been dead only a few days, and tributes everywhere call the onetime child star a genius. Oh yeah? I recently sat through Martin Bashir’s 2003 documentary Living With Michael Jackson (an icky title in light

Album Review: Wattstax: The Living Word

With apologies to Sir Walter Scott, “oh, what a tangled web we weave, when again we practice to re-release.” The 1972 Wattstax festival was black R&B’s excellent (if belated) answer to Woodstock and other festivals of the era. Concerts in and around the Watts district of Los Angeles put the spotlight on Stax Records’ best

Album Review: Stax: The Soul of Hip-Hop

This compilation would have been an inspired, brilliant idea, had it not been done already (see review of the 2008 Blue Note compilation Droppin’ Science). So instead it’s merely a very, very good idea. Hip-hop is a genre that is largely built on synthesizing earlier works. And one of its virtues is its sense of

Album Review: Various Artists — Stax Does the Beatles

Before succumbing to the vicissitudes of the record biz, Stax Records was one of the coolest labels in the 60s and 70s. Rawer and earthier than Motown, the black-oriented label out of Memphis turned out classic albums from Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the MGs and many others. Many of these artists wrote their own

Album Review: Droppin’ Science: Greatest Samples from the Blue Note Lab

This is one of those projects that makes you ask, “Why didn’t someone do this sooner?” Many artists on the famed Blue Note label have had their work sampled over the years. The 1969-’75 work of their artists would be a treasure trove for innovative hip-hop artists; many of the era’s best jazz/pop tracks were