soul Archive

The Ru-Jac Records Story, Part Two

Continued from Part One… Something Got a Hold on Me covers 1963-1964, the earliest years of Ru-Jac, ones that featured the Kay Keys Band, Little Sonny Daye, Brenda Jones, Parker, the Teardrops Band and several others. Most names won’t be familiar to most outside the Baltimore soul scene of that era, but the quality of

The Ru-Jac Records Story, Part One

Beginning operations in 1963, Baltimore-based Ru-Jac Records was an African American-owned and -operated record label. Founded by Rufus E. Mitchell and Jack Bennett, Ru-Jac was a singles-only label that released dozens of 45 rpm discs, primarily between 1963 and 1974. Much of the label’s output has remained largely unavailable since the label ceased operations in

EP Review: Sister Ivy – Plecia

Sister Ivy is an Asheville-based project, the nom de musique of Rachel Waterhouse. Sister Ivy has had a relatively lengthy gestation period: the group played its first gig some three years ago at the old Sherwood Music. But quality takes time, and the refined, sultry character of Waterhouse’s original music has surely benefited from the

Fifty-word Reviews for July 2018, Part 1

For years now, I’ve engaged in an occasional series of reviews in which I limit myself to 100 words. The point isn’t at all to give short shrift to these fine releases; instead, it’s to cover albums that would otherwise go unmentioned only for lack of time. Speaking of time, all of these releases are

Graham Parker: Sticking to It (Part 2)

Continued from Part One… Parker was a mere 25 years old when Howlin’ Wind was released. Today he’s 67. Because of the straightforward, heart-on-the-sleeve quality of his lyrics, it’s fair to wonder if those early songs resonate with him. Or, when he sings “Soul Shoes,” does he feel that he’s a man in his sixties

Graham Parker: Sticking to It (Part 1)

When Graham Parker came on the music scene in the mid 1970s, he was pegged as an angry young man of the new wave movement. And while that label always overstated the case, there was an acerbic and barbed quality to both Parker’s lyrics and his manner of delivery. Still, at his best Parker created

Tank and the Bangas: Big Bang

One of the most intriguing and compelling musical acts to gain recent national attention is Tank and the Bangas. The New Orleans-based group combines spoken word, hip-hop, gospel and other styles into a unique sound all its own. Tank and the Bangas won the prestigious Tiny Desk Contest in 2017, and the group is currently

Khruangbin: Fascinating in Any Language

Crafting a musical style upon a foundation of Thai funk might seem a bit high-concept, especially if you’re a band that makes your albums in a barn in rural Texas. But as unlikely as it might seem, that’s the story that has grown up around Khruangbin, a trio based in Burton, a city of less

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,