Sunday, January 28, 2007

B B King Recovers From Bout Of Flu

BB King is recovering after a bout of flu.

Blues musician BB King was "back to his old self" after being discharged from a hospital, a spokeswoman for his management agency said.

The 81-year-old bluesman was "feeling fabulous," said Tina France, vice president of Lieberman Management of New York.

King had been treated for a low-grade fever following a bout of flu. He was admitted to the hospital shortly before he was scheduled to perform at the Grand Opera House in Galveston.

King plans to perform Tuesday in Fort Worth, France said.

The acclaimed musician, who has a history of diabetes, had a fever which required monitoring because of his age, said France.

Doctors treated him with antibiotics, she said.

King had been kept in the hospital's elderly acute care unit as a precaution, said John Koloen, a spokesman for the hospital.

King, who won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, has become a spokesman in the fight against diabetes. In December, US president George Bush awarded King the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Information from MSN News report.

I've Been Put Out, Shut Out, And Told To Stay Out, And Then Talked About, But I've Still Got You: Joe Tex For The Hall Of Fame!

"This is what rock and roll is all about," Rock And Roll Hall of Fame President Joel Peresman said to the coterie of music executives who had hung around after the ceremonies, eagerly hanging on to his every word. "Who would believe that Van Halen would have to wait so long for their just reward. But lucky for them, I'm in charge now. I spent a lot of good money on hairspray, skipped class to follow their tours, and learnt three whole power chords so I could play their tunes on my 'axe' in my bedroom. Such devotion! But now the whole world understands..."

Bidding his friends farewell, Mr Peresman gave final orders to security to dispose of Iggy and The Stooges. Picking up another sparkling flute of champagne, he trotted, giddily, up the steps and onto the now empty stage. It had been a good night...

... a cold draft blew threw the room. Joel span around, suddenly convinced that he was not alone. But there was nothing there, of course. How silly of me, he thought, nobody noticed. How could they possibly know what we have done? They worship who we say they should worship...

This time, he was spun around with such force he snapped the stem of the flute between his fingers. Yet the strength moving him was not his own.

I Gotcha!


You Thought I Didn't See Ya Now, Didn't Ya?

"It's not possible..."

You Thought You'd Sneak By Me Now, Didn't Ya?

"This can't be happening..."

Uh huh, Huh!

"But they told me you only made that disco hit where you ain't gonna bump no more with no big fat woman..."

Uh huh, Huh!

"Please, I didn't know..."

Now Give Me What You Promised Me, Give It Here, Come On!

There was a scream, then the sound of broken glass. Then there was just the sound of running footsteps, an empty awards room, stale champagne, and a pile of gaudy trinkets...

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The decision to omit Joe Tex from the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame this year astonishes me! How can Van Halen have a better claim, especially in a list of candidates that also included The Stooges as a far more credible 'rock' act? I blame MTV... Yet it continues to be the case that soul artists such as Joe Tex are all but invisible to the public at large, and their contributions to music totally ignored. Even those artists who do rise above into the collective consciousness are incompletely understood. One British tabloid (the formerly proud, campaigning, working-class Mirror) recently described the funeral of Mr James Brown and the public procession to view the casket as 'bizarre' and 'ghoulish' and 'grotesque'. Such commentators are in the most extreme form of denial about the origins of their popular music, yet seemingly revel in their ignorance.

The blogosphere is not immune to such frippery either. The same day as the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame announcement, one blog admirably featured Joe Tex and several admirable samples of his work, yet spared no expense to mock his comedic lyrical style, and even to denigrate his religion by mocking his name (termed 'El Reg Dwight' for some bizarre reason) and with numerous references to eating pork scratchings. Yusuf Hazziez deserves better than this.

Joe's music is much deeper that the comedy on the surface suggests. There is a serious aspect to many of his songs. The comedy comes from his keen powers of observation. Peter Guralnick puts into context the comedic aspects of Joe Tex's act in Sweet Soul Music:

"Perhaps humor was as good a way to handle the indignities of the road as any other... Removed by twenty [now forty] years, it is not always easy to remember just how grim those days really were ... Ballparks and taxicabs are segregated ...a book about black rabbits and white rabbits was banned... A drive is on to forbid 'Negro music' on 'white' radio stations... In the face of such opposition is it any wonder that many blacks should have fallen back on 'mother wit' as their first line of defence?..."

Joseph Arrington's conversion to Islam was also far from a flippant act. Many white people in the industry saw it as a sign of black activism, and thus a challenge to the established racial order of the day. In fact, it was a deeply personal search for spiritual answers, by a man who was not at all beholden to the allures of fame, and gave up his career to focus on his family and ministry. Now, of course, Joe's religion brings up other latent fears within some. How ironic that they would use comedy to protect themselves from it...

Today's song, from Joe's Dial recordings, shows the character of a man who had experienced ignorance and bigotry aplenty, yet was able to maintain his own sense of dignity and retain focus on the things close to him that meant something more...

Baby, if you be good, if you be good,
If you be good, baby, if you be good,
I'll give you all the love and care that your heart desires
Yes I will...

I've been lied on, stepped on, walked on, cheated on baby,
I've still got you.
I've been run down, knocked down , turned around and slapped down, baby
I still got you.

A man would have to be crazy, to leave a good woman like you.
Coz you have got that certain little something,
That makes me forget all that I've been through...

I've been put out shut out, and told to stay out, and then talked about,
But I've still got you.
I've been beat up, cut up, shot up and told to shut up.
I still got you.

Listen again!
A man whould have to be crazy,
to leave a good woman like you,
Coz you have got that certain little something,
that makes me forget all that I've been through.

Joe Tex - Baby, Be Good (Dial 4086) 1968

Somewhere, I imagine, people who know, amongst them Buddy, Ahmet, and even James, are giving Joe a toast befitting to his contribution, and that's enough for him perhaps. And even down here, it isn't the end of the story. On October 26th 2006, someone named Phile wrote a comment in a blog elsewhere that read: "Where has Joe Tex been all my life?"

The details of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees 2007 can be found here. To campaign for Joe Tex's inclusion in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for 2008, write to:

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation
1290 Avenue of the Americas
New York,
NY 10104
Or leave comments for this post, to form a petition!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The (Soul) Source of All Wisdom... or Fame! I'm Gonna Live Forever!

I was popping into Soul Source to just look around and learn, and saw a news item about a new automated (and presumably Complete and Unbelieveable) Directory Of Soul. That sounds useful, I thought, I'll have a look and put in a link so people can search out soul on the web...

Then I found this little bit of text on the page...

"Site Highlights/Updates via rss/atom
Each weblink if it has a rss/atom feed will now display highlights of all the latest items on the site as well eg the newest link the brown eyed handsome man link info page"

Ooh, someone has the same name for a webpage, might be about Chuck Berry... So I clicked, and found this!

SOUL SOURCE - No.1 For Northern Soul!!!

What a lovely thing to say! Thank you, whoever it was who put me in!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dr King We Sing!

Coretta Scott King & Martin Luther King, Montgomery

Today is Martin Luther King Day. It is the celebration of one man's birthday. Rev King spent his life confronting injustice.

Some were disatisifed with the pace and the direction at times. Why did he put up with so much hostility and violence, and meet it with non-violence? Why listen to so much deliberate politicking and spend time trying to understand it? Did not Frederick Douglass once state that, "If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power gives up nothing without demands." Dr King understood these frustrations and points of view, and sympathised with them. He hoped that he was right to adopt the path of non-violent protest, and he persisted in making demands of the powerful. Along the way, he accepted the indignities that befell his fellow protestors, and shared their arrests and jailings. He was increasingly unafraid to ask questions about Vietnam, and to help stage the Poor People's Campaign as an alternative agenda for the American people, hoping to demonstrate the damage that a system of racism and war was doing to the fabric of the Great Society for all.

Who would Dr King celebrate today? An answer might be found in his Letter From a Birmingham Jail of April 16th 1963, written to shame those white liberal church leaders who had urged him to call off protests, and to wait for a concessions to be worked out. They misunderstood the nature of the black freedom struggle. Martin Luther King Jr knew that he did not have the power to stop something that he had not begun and did not control, and had been waiting long enough. In one passage, Dr King decides to introduce the true faces of the struggle:

"I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face Jeering, and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My fleets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. "

If you have done one thing, big or small, to face up to injustice and prejudice, which can still pernicously divide us, then today is for you to celebrate.

Happy Birthday Dr King.

In 1968, in the aftermath of Dr King's murder, a gospel group called the Spiritual Consolators went to Style Wooten's Designer Records in Memphis to record a double-sided tribute to Dr King. In part, it was a lament, mourning the loss of a great leader. However, at the same time, the lyric is at pains to demonstrate that they will not go away quietly, but will overcome his passing. Dr King, We Sing. And to the King we sing. And we'll go on singing.

The Spiritual Consolators - Dr King We Sing (Part 1) (Designer 6789) 1968

The Spiritual Consolators - Dr King We Sing (Part 2) (Designer 6789) 1968

P.S. My class (they are 7 and 8) at school today recognised MLK all by themselves after a big discussion, and told me some things they knew about him, and they liked Stevie Wonder's Happy Birthday, which we played over about five times. We thought about whether they would be brave enough to tell someone if somebody was being picked on or treated unfairly. But they did think 50 Cent was cooler now than Stevie...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Happy New Year! (Finally!) with Sam Moore & Amy Winehouse

And finally, with some delay, a very Happy New Year to everybody who comes to visit my blog!

It has been a very busy couple of weeks, with lots to do at work, plus internet troubles on my computer, and also looking for and buying my first ever flat (stressful!), so I only managed to post a post about the new Macon soul book that I had already prepared before the holidays. By the time everything was back to some normality yesterday, there seemed little to add in way of a tribute to Mr Brown that had not been much better said by others, and New Year had come and gone, for which I was trying to prepare a little quiz or something, and a tribute to those great people we said goodbye to last year. Fortunately, many others provided these tributes, including JB tributes by Larry Grogan at Funky 16 Corners, Jason Stone at The Stepfather of Soul, and Red Kelly at The B Side, who participated in and reported to us all on the viewing of James Brown at rest at the Apollo Theater, and who remembered many others on the last post of 2006.

I spent New Year's Eve with my brother and his partner, and my nephew, Rhys, before settling down, like countless others, to watch Jools Holland's Hootenany. This allowed me the treat of seeing the great Sam Moore singing I Thank You and Soul Man, and later on Hold On! I'm Coming. I saw him earlier in the year on the MOBO Awards, and he epitomises what I see as the true characteristics of a soul man: the experience of singing live, working at the craft for a living, something quite independent of the producers and stylists that dominate most modern musical stars, where the emphasis is on trying to reproduce the recorded, lip-synched and produced product.

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Sam Moore at New Year 2007!

More treats were in store! The wonderful Amy Winehouse, so astounding she can even get the die-hards of the Soul Source forum trading in their 45s to buy her CDs! She sang I Heard It Through The Grapevine and it wasn't half-bad, as I hope you'll agree. I get the impression that Amy sings songs because she has to sing for her own sake. Amy can sing with the sense of real conviction, despite her tender years, and her own songs tackle human dilemmas in a way that rises above the 'girl-power' platitudes of most other current female icons, and are damn good music. Although I must grumble at the incongruous inclusion of grumpy Paul Weller, who could have picked a better time to try out his new 'grand old man of the blues' persona. OK, he did good for a mod revivalist!

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Amy Winehouse 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'

At one point in the evening, comedian Adrian Edmundson did a jazz rendition of Anarchy in the UK, and left Sam Moore and band in stitches when he atttempted a bebop trumpet solo with so much gusto you almost thought he would pull it off. For the finale they were all back to sing a rendition of The Mighty Quinn, which is how the show usually ends.

Family, a few beers, and Jools Holland on the telly. Can't beat it! Next year I will of course be reporting live from P Diddy's party mansion...

Links on YouTube by curtisandhooky.

I Would Not Let More Violence Happen: Roosevelt Grier and Bobby Kennedy

In today's Observer newspaper, there was a series of interviews with people who were present at the Ambassador Hotel on the day of Bobby Kennedy's assasination, as part of the build-up to the new film, which unfortunately will not be based upon or feature portrayals of real witnesses. Amongst the interviews was one with Roosevelt 'Rosey' Grier, football star, actor and soul singer, who had decided to work for Bobby during his campaign. I wrote about Rosey Grier in an earlier post, so I thought it would be interesting to include his recollections here:

"I had never been involved in any political campaign before, but when Bobby started to run for president, I decided to do all I could to help. This man meant so much to me. He was my hero.

I admired his sensitivity when Martin Luther King was assassinated. I was moved by the way Bobby tolk the folks in Indianapolis that King had been killed, sharing with them that his brother had also been assassinated by a white man and that color had nothing to do with it.

So I began helping out wherever I could. On the evening of the California vote, I turned up at the Ambassador. Bobby's supporters were all gathered in the Embassy Room, looking excited. Then I went to Bobby's suite where he was watching the election results come in.

As the evening wore on, it became clear that he had won, and he decided to go downstairs to the crowd. I was told to stay beside Ethel [Kennedy's wife], who was six months pregnant. We got to the elevator and I stood back because I was so large I would have prevented others getting in, but Bobby said, 'No, get in.'

As we went down, I punched him gently in the stomach - the way he had punched me the first time we met - and said we were on our way, first California, then the country. 'Not yet,' he replied. 'It's Illinois next.'

After the victory speech, Bobby jumped off the stage and went into the kitchen, and Ethel and I rushed to follow him. We were just entering the room when I heard a sound like firecrackers and then people screaming.

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Ethel fell to the floor and I went to her, but the screaming got louder, so I ran forwards into the kitchen, where I saw a group [including Olympic gold-medal decathlete Rafer Johnson and writer George Plimpton] grappling with a man [Sirhan Sirhan]. I grabbed the man's legs and dragged him onto a table. There was a guy angrily twisting the killer's legs and other angry faces coming towards him, as though they were going to tear him to pieces. I fought them off. I would not let more violence happen.

And then I saw a man lying on the floor, with one knee up. I didn't know it was Bobby until he lifted his head and I saw blood by his right ear.

When Bobby Kennedy died, it changed my life completely. It was a tragedy for his children, his family and for all of us. I gave up football and became involved in trying to help young men avoid a life of violence, and now I'm a minister working to help the community.

That's something Bobby taught me: that individuals can make a difference. That was his inspiration, and God's message to us all."

Quotes by Roosevelt Grier. Interview conducted by Ed Pilkington, and published in the Observer newspaper. Photo by Bob Gumpert.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Street Singers, Soul Shouters, And Rebels With A Cause: Music From Macon!

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The sad passing of Mr James Brown at Christmas brought home to me that people we take for granted as ever-present parts of our culture are passing each day, sometimes without the recognition they deserved for contributing so much to the lives of thousands of people. Every effort that is made to record and learn about the life-stories of people who have on so many levels done more than entertain us should be cherished.

So after the shock of James Brown's death, something more positive is occuring for Georgia soul fans. A new book is being released in March 2007 from Indigo Custom Publishing and the New Town Macon urban regeneration scheme, entitled Street Singers, Soul Shouters And Rebels With A Cause: Music From Macon.

It has taken author Candice Dyer a couple of years and a supporting team of music sleuths to track down and interview the hundreds of key players who made Macon a special place for music. Here is a short list of just some of the people who have contributed: Phil & Alan Walden, Carolyn Killen, Hamp Swain, Little Richard and Melvin 'Percy' Welch, Zelma & Rogers Redding, Eddie Kirkland, Jerry Wexler, white soul singer Wayne Cochran, the late James Brown and Johnny Jenkins, Pinetop Perkins, Speedo Simms, Jackie Avery and Ella Brown, Rick Hall, former Ohio Untouchable Robert Ward, and Otis tour band trumpeter Newt Collier, as well as a number of people associated to the Allman Brothers Band.

The title of the book was thought up by Wade Griner from Warner Robins, who submitted the winning entry for the Name That Book contest held by Indigo Publishing in the autumn. He won an all-expenses-paid to see The Allman Brothers Band in New York’s Beacon Theater:

“Although I am not a Macon native, like so many others from Central Georgia, I’ve spent my entire life impressed by the music that came from our region. From the Reverend Pearly Brown to Little Richard, Otis Redding and the soulsters who shook the music world despite society’s racial lines, as well as the Allman Brothers Band who elevated rock and roll to a new level by playing it from the guts of the South---there are no few words to describe the history of music from Macon.”

Wade in fact has his own personal connection to Macon music. His wife, Jessica Walden-Griner, is the daughter of Alan Walden and the niece of Phil Walden.

The book will feature photographs never before seen and a CD of interviews with the key artists who transformed the music of the 60’s and 70’s. The website for the book is being set up as we speak and should be online later in January at: You'll be able to buy the book, find out more about the music of Macon ... and also try a recipe for Rocklet Chocolate Chip Cookies. Mmmm.

Pre-order Street Singers, Soul Shakers And Rebels With A Cause here from late January...

Information and cover photo kindly provided by Mary Robinson at Indigo Custom Publishing.